LotRO – Mordor Expansion Thoughts

I did indeed buy the $40 edition of the Mordor Expansion, and boosted a Hobbit Minstrel from level 24 to level 105 so I could actually play said expansion. (Folks on Twitter seemed to think Minstrel was a good solo class to play.)

Once again the gear you are given looks awful, like a suit of white underwear. I guess they really want people who use level boosts to look like total newbies compared to the people have been playing all along, which I suppose isn’t entirely inappropriate. At least this time they gave me a neat-looking pony, though it is literally only like 5% faster than the blond sorrel pony I had at level 24.

My level 105 experience began with Book 8, Chapter 1, “No Other Way.” This is one of those “scenarios” where you experience a piece of the story from a different character’s point of view. I had never seen these until late in the Volume 1 Angmar story, when my Hunter was over level 50, so I was glad to have that previous experience. I imagine someone brand new to LotRO or someone who had never leveled beyond the 20s (a popular place for people to fizzle out of LotRO–or at least that’s where most of my characters fizzle out) might be a bit confused about what was happening to them.

It was a neat little story section but it was also entirely expositional. No combat, just reading text and walking around as Golum. Possibly not the greatest way to begin the expansion.

Then it was on to the Black Gate, and a tense attempt at parlay. (I did not remember this from the story–seems like a silly idea to try to negotiate a treaty with Sauron, but I guess it was mainly just an attempt at a distraction.)

Then on to the Battle of the Black Gate aka. the Battle of the Morannon. This battle was just amazing. If my wiki research is correct, this was added in the previous Update 20. I can’t believe I didn’t hear more people raving about how amazing this battle was. (Perhaps this is why the game nearly died.) I was blown away by how much LotRO managed to deliver with its creaky old game engine.

It was really laggy and slow, but it was worth it. None of my screenshots do justice to all the activity going on around you. Archers firing, people getting shot by arrows right in front of you, cavalry riding into battle, big ogres knocking people high up in the air, fires burning, Nazgul flying around, bombastic music blaring in the background: I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Book 9, Chapter 1, which I think is the official beginning of the Mordor expansion, didn’t start until the middle of the battle. It was not long before the Ringbearer completed his quest and the battle ended. I hope that’s not a spoiler. :)

It was so quick that I thought it was actually a bit anti-climatic. One minute we’re wandering around Mount Doom to find Frodo and Sam, and the next minute the eagles arrive and everything’s over and we’ve won the day.

That’s about as far as I got as of this writing.

I really enjoyed the Black Gate battle but I honestly don’t feel much burning passion to continue beyond that. As a newbie outsider to LotRO, it feels like it’s “over” now. I know, I know. I remember hearing a number of people talking about how there would be more to Mordor than just Mount Doom, and that’s pretty clear, considering that three chapters into the expansion, we’re all celebrating our victory over Sauron, so there must be something else beyond that. But I personally have no idea where they can go from here, and the game itself has not yet introduced any compelling new storylines for me to follow. My knowledge of Lord of the Rings lore is not that great, but I think there is something about The Shire and sailing west to the New World to discover America. We’ll see.

P.S. Apparently there are tons of bugs in this expansion and it was rushed out the door too soon but I haven’t seen any of that. I’ve seen some strange quirks with people appearing and disappearing around quest givers but that’s about it. I would have just chalked that up to an old game engine and the fact that LotRO has always had strange quirks.

Personally I think this expansion controversy illustrates just how close LotRO was to shutting down forever. SSG is apparently so desperate to keep this game alive that they have no choice but to rush out a substandard expansion. I know a lot of people are upset about it but I personally don’t blame them for it. At least they’re trying.

I will also add that there aren’t many people playing this expansion. I’m on Brandywine, which I thought was one of the more populated servers, and these zones are dead as a doornail. There are none of the crowds you’d expect to see at the start of an expansion. (Granted, I’m five or six days behind, but still.) Not to be pessimistic, but this does not seem to bode well for the future of this game.

Update: Finally wandered beyond the Black Gate into the first Mordor zone. Lots and lots more people there. Not as deserted as I first thought. No need to panic. :)

LotRO – The Road To Mordor, A Tweetstorm

I haven’t yet bought the Mordor expansion (I probably will, despite the hype-destroying trailer), but it dawned on me that LotRO is one of those rare MMORPGs where you can actually explore the world without having to unlock zones by completing quests. So I decided that I wanted to run my 95 Runekeeper as close to Mordor as I could get. I made it all the way to the Black Gate.

I had a lot of fun running there, and it didn’t cost me anything. I didn’t do a single quest on the entire trip, and honestly I didn’t see very many quests to select from either. (I haven’t purchased any of the content that I ran through.)

I was blown away by how massive the LotRO world is. I thought that I had covered a lot of territory to get my Hunter to Moria, but I had only just barely scratched the surface, and the amount of land in the game that exists between level 95 and 105 is just incredible. I don’t know if I’ve published this thought anywhere, but I feel like LotRO is the “last” MMORPG released that is actually “massive.” Nobody puts this much physical space in their games anymore.

Here’s the journey in tweet form:

 

LotRO – Mordor Is Here Too Soon

Standing Stone Games started taking orders for the Mordor expansion in LotRO, which is “expected” to release July 31. $40 for the no-frills version.* The moment is finally here. The moment I’ve been dreading for so long: The moment when everyone else will get to experience the MMORPG cultural event of the decade, while I sit on the sidelines, peering longingly through the cracks in the fence, trying to catch a glimpse of the prize at the end of the rainbow. Or some metaphor or another like that.

This is the exact thing that I’ve tried to prepare for for over a year now. How much progress did I make on that preparation, you ask? Well, I leveled my Hunter from about 48 to 55. So yay? I was just 50 levels short of my goal. (It felt like I played a long time to get those 7 levels, too.)

Last week, I used up 5995 of my ~7000 Points Formerly Known As Turbine to buy a level 95 boost for my Dwarf Runekeeper. I arrived in a camp I’ve never seen before with a bunch of new stuff in my inventory, each of which exploded into more stuff. I equipped a whole new set of armor which if I were to be generous looks about as awful as a set of cloth armor can possibly look. Frankly it looks like a set of white thermal underwear.

I quickly discovered that I could not equip the Advanced Riding trait thingy because I had not yet learned regular Riding. My dwarf was level 19 when I started, standing around the area of that horse farm near Bree, and I think the last time I played him years ago I had been looking around there to find a horse. (Actually I think I have a horse, I just can’t ride it.) So I sought to find my way back to that horse farm to learn Riding.

Through clever use of a Mithril Coin and an unfinished quest, I found my way back to Strider in The Prancy Pony. (Otherwise I would have had no clue how to leave the town I was in other than by picking a direction and walking. Getting around without Hunter teleports is a pain!) Then I was back in the same predicament I was in before: I had no idea where to find the Riding trait. So I logged off.

A few days later I logged back in and pulled up the LotRO Store and found the Riding trait I was looking for the easy way. And as it turned out, since I’m technically a free player at this point, I had to buy it. After getting the Riding trait I was finally able to use the Advanced Riding trait and the Combat Riding trait. I warped back to Level 95 Camp.

“Level 95 Camp” as I call it. Oh LotRO. Your primitive screenshot capabilities are so quaint.

There are some big changes in LotRO life between level 50-something and level 95. I have a “war horse” now, which is apparently a special kind of horse that does more than just run fast. You get a whole new hotbar while you’re riding and I have no idea how it works or whether I should even try to learn it.

Thankfully I had gone through the Legendary Weapon trainers at level 50, so I had at least an inkling of a clue what to do with the unidentified Legendary Runestone I ended up with. Instead of getting actual weapons with the 95 boost, you get three random weapon pack thingys which let you select the kind of weapon you want. Of course, not having played RK in ages, I had no clue whatsoever what to pick. I chose a Lightning Rune because I think the skill tree I picked said something about Lightning affinity. I’ve no idea if that was right or not. I’m saving the other 2 weapon box thingys for later when I actually understand whether or not I want a legendary rune bag or a legendary bridle, and what kind I want.

Now I don’t have even the vaguest idea of what to do, where to go, or how to play this 95 RuneKeeper with hotbars filled with unknown abilities. There weren’t even any quests to follow. [Update: I found a quest! It was, um, right in front of me the whole time.] (It’s even worse than when I got a free high-level Necromancer in EQ2.) I’m thinking my chances of leveling from 95 to 105 on this character before the end of the month are slim to none.

Of course–of course–the Mordor expansion comes with its own level boost. So I should have just waited before getting the 95 boost. Oh well. (I actually contemplated waiting for this exact reason. But in all my reading of all the posts expertly declaring what to expect from the coming Mordor expansion, nobody said to expect a level boost. Way to go, games journalists.)

I asked Twitter for some help on which class to play in LotRO as a solo player (besides Hunter), and it seemed like the two most prominent answers were Runekeeper and Minstrel. I have a Hobbit Minstel in the teen levels I think, so perhaps I’ll use that one for Mordor.

* I have no comment on the pricing uproar. I almost always get the cheap editions of games and expansions, and I have no interest in the High Elf, and no time to play one even if I did.

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.