Sunday, 28 February 2016

Blessing of the Valar for my Hunter

Ever since I heard about the character boost to level 95, I've wanted to get it for my hunter. Even before I heard about it, I wished she could be high level without having to do all the levelling. I finally got it and she will soon be jumping from level 50 to 95.

So why is she in such a hurry to skip the levelling process, when that is probably the best part of the game? Well it's got a lot to do with my hunter's personality and how she doesn't like doing things the traditional MMO way.

Robinya, my hunter that doesn't like to hunt

Ever since she was a wee hobbit, Robinya always liked exploring ruins and looking for mathoms and old knick-knacks that might have been left behind. She always looked forward to the Harvest Festival and couldn't wait to go exploring the Haunted Barrow. Her parents were concerned about her, especially when she was exploring the Bindbole Wood and the Scary quarry. They even tried locking her in her room, but she dug a tunnel out. So they decided that if they couldn't stop her, then they'd try to protect her by teaching her how to protect herself. She was given the option of learning to be a hunter, a guardian or a lore-master - her parents were sure she would choose the lore-master - but she chose to become a hunter. Robinya explained that a pet would be a nuisance and so would a big shield. She didn't really want to fight anyone so she thought being a hunter would let her blend into the background and not be noticed, but if she did have to fight, she could hopefully keep some distance between her and her enemy so she could get away safe. Her parents were impressed with her logic and lessons began straight away.

Robinya learnt the basics of being a hunter but she hated practising. She'd rather be harvesting Shire Apples for one of her ma's delicious Spiced Apple Pies than trying to shoot them off the fence-post. She hated how she got herself trapped in her own trap when she went to check why it hadn't caught anything. And she burnt herself when she tried to set up an explosive decoy. Her instructor, Bolo Boffin, was exasperated with her. But it finally clicked for her when she had a fright one evening while she was out exploring near the Scrag-dells and was ambushed by several Wild Gramsfoot. She threw her torch down and the Light Oil disoriented the goblins so they couldn't hit her. She ran a short distance then quickly set a trip-wire to slow any pursuit and then finally, when it really counted, she got the decoy to work properly and she hid behind a tree and watched as they attacked her bundle of sticks with its lit fuse. When it went boom, it was almost as good as Gandalf's fireworks.

Her parents were so proud of her. They could see Robinya as one of the Bounders, protecting the Shire honourably and in her spare time she could hunt mathoms and grow flowers and vegetables if she wished. But Robinya had other plans. One morning at breakfast, she told her parents she wanted to go to Rivendell and become a scholar. She had had enough of learning to be a hunter and she wanted to know more about other culture's mathoms - or relics she had learnt they were often called. She wanted to learn more about making potions, not just light oils. She wanted to learn to read and write scrolls and maybe even books. Her parents sighed and tried to argue that she could learn all that with the Mathom Society, but they knew she had made up her mind. But how could she bear to leave the Shire?!?

Last Homely House in Rivendell

So off she went to become a scholar, and she really enjoyed it. She had a desk near the library in the Last Homely House and people would send  relics to her and she would study them and file them away and write reports on what she learnt. Battle Lore reports were particularly popular, and so were Crafting Journals. Sometimes when she went exploring ruins she would find beautiful wild flowers or berries that she took home to Rivendell with her and the elves taught her to turn them into colourful dyes for clothing. She was very happy there, but eventually the Scholar Guild said she had mastered the skills of learning and they could not teach her anything she couldn't teach herself. So she went home to the Shire.

She caught up with Bolo Boffin, her old hunter trainer, and told him about her adventures in the Trollshaws. The next day, she got a letter from his relative Bingo Boffin, asking for help, although he wasn't quite specific about what he needed help with. Nevertheless, she was curious and decided to go find out. It turns out, he had ideas about going on an adventure and Robinya was just the companion he needed. She didn't mind. He was amusing company and they met a lot of interesting people along the way.

Bingo Boffin

However, the journey started getting more difficult and she started to think maybe she should have spent more time learning to be a better hunter. And then she thought about how when this journey was all over, she wanted to go to a place called Galtrev and learn about growing Wild Flower fields from the Men of Dunland. Some flower extracts were just so hard to get in the quantities she wanted for her dye-making hobby. Then Bingo Boffin disappeared into a cavern and she had to go to Moria with a Dourhand dwarf called Skalvi. They finally found Bingo, but the experience had so traumatised him that he didn't remember her. She wanted to help him recover, but she felt like she just wasn't strong enough. She hated to admit it, but there were creatures in Moria even smaller than her that scared her.

When Robinya was studying in Rivendell, she remembered hearing about the Valar and their mighty powers. She might of misinterpreted it, but she thought she read something about a pilgrimage to Gondor and seeking the Blessing of the Valar and if they found her worthy, her abilities would be upgraded almost instantly and she would become stronger and more knowledgeable about the world around her. It sounded too good to be true, but she started hoping it was a real possibility. Then she could continue the journey with Bingo and not have to be afraid of creatures in Moria. Then she could visit Galtrev, and the famous golden woods of Lothlórien she had heard so much about from the elves. She could go see the sea and find the corsairs' secret treasure caches. She could have her own war-steed (the thought both excited and terrified her) and ride across the plains of Rohan faster than hobbits could imagine. She could go where she wanted when she wanted and she wouldn't have to stay in one place doing tiresome chores for townsfolk who couldn't be bothered talking to their neighbour themself or picking up dirty dishes or eliminating the rats in their food stores. She wouldn't have to follow orders from commanders of the militia and earn their favour by killing their enemies over disputed land or loyalties. She could go un-noticed and live her life in peace, even if the rest of Middle Earth was at war over a ring - a ring!

The One Ring (credit to MirCore at DeviantArt)

So, that was a lot more than I intended to write, but perhaps you can see why this character means a lot to me and why using the Blessing of the Valar to boost her to level 95 makes sense. She doesn't want to quest through the zones, she wants to be able to go anywhere without having to fight to get there. She wants access to crafting resources and recipes and factions with interesting cosmetic items to collect. She wants to get gear that is good enough so she doesn't have to worry about improving it constantly. She wants to live in Middle Earth, not be a hero.

She's very different from most of my characters who earnestly want to help save Middle Earth. She's selfish, but she does help others, sharing her scrolls, her potions, her dyes and even protecting them with her life when needed. She spends hours growing flowers and pipe-weed on the farm and then sells most of it to a vendor because she only wanted a few flower petals or seeds and the rest was not her concern. She doesn't care about money - she has a vault full of relics that are priceless to her. She loves to travel (and having hunter guides to get to many towns around the world quickly is a great boon for her) and rarely returns home to the Shire except for festivals. She collects pets and mounts but never shows them off. She is endlessly frustrating and endearing because she doesn't do what I expect her to. I'll try to get her to do some quests to level up and it's so tiresome I give up. I'm just about to log off and the next thing I know, she's travelled half-way across the known world and is busily crafting away in the Bree Crafting Hall and mailing her wares off to my other characters to help them on their adventures.

Next time, I'll provide more details about what the Blessing of the Valar package actually includes, instead of justifying why my character should be boosted.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

War-steed Appearances from Rohan

My Beorning, Tyravorth, is still in East Rohan questing to get to level 85. Her favourite quests have been the ones that rewards items that let you customise your war-steed appearance for free.

My Lore-master, Myndariel, still hasn't collected the rare Spotted War-steed and the full set of war-steed appearances from West Rohan - they are harder to get because they only have a small chance to drop from warbands.

Hunting warbands is a good excuse to go back and visit Rohan every now and again. Brings back memories too - remember the first time you saw that huge troll in the Norcrofts and though "uh oh", or came across a warband designed for a raid and you tried to solo them and got wiped out in an instant? Warbands add a little extra challenge and danger and make the zones feel more alive.  

War-steed Appearance Set from the Wold

  • Light Caparison of the Wold - quest reward from Welcome to Harwick [76] near Harwick
  • Light Leggings of the Wold - quest reward from Down Payment [76] near Harwick
  • Light Saddle of the Wold - quest reward from Source of the Corruption [77] near Twickenburg
  • Light Halter of the Wold - quest reward from Floodwend Besieged [77] near Floodwend

Light Set of the Wold

War-steed Appearance Set from the Norcrofts

  • Light Caparison of the Norcrofts - quest reward from The Enduring Menace [78] near Trader's Outpost
  • Light Leggings of the Norcrofts - quest reward from All That Remains [79] near Cliving
  • Light Saddle of the Norcrofts - quest reward from The Elfward [79] near Faldham
  • Light Halter of the Norcrofts - quest reward from The Corrupted Matrons [79] near Faldham

Light Set of the Norcrofts

War-steed Appearance Set from the Entwash

  • Light Caprison of the Entwash - quest reward from Patching Friendships [80] near Eawort
  • Light Leggings of the Entwash - quest reward from In Defense of Eaworth [81] near Eaworth
  • Light Saddle of the Entwash - quest reward from Chieftain of the Dead [81] near Byrgenstow
  • Light Halter of the Entwash - quest reward from The Treasure of Rohan [82] near Éomer's Vengeance

Light Set of the Entwash

War-steed Appearance Set from the Sutcrofts

  • Light Caparison of the Sutcrofts - quest reward from An Unfair Exchange [85] near Snowbourn
  • Light Leggings of the Sutcofts - quest reward from The Father of the Sutcrofts [85] near Snowbourn
  • Light Saddle of the Sutcrofts - quest reward from The First Assault [85] near Snowbourn
  • Light Halter of the Sutcrofts - quest reward from The Reeve Restored [85] near Snowbourn

Light Set of the Sutcrofts

War-steed Hide Appearance from East Rohan

The Spotted War-steed hide appearance is a rare reward in boxes of spoils (e.g. Blue Box of Wold Spoils) from defeating warbands in East Rohan.

War-steed Appearance Set from West Rohan

These appearance traits are rare rewards from boxes of spoils received for defeating warbands in West Rohan.
  • Caparison of West Rohan
  • Halter of West Rohan
  • Saddle of West Rohan

For more information about the warbands, their difficulty, location and possible rewards, visit LOTRO Wiki: Warband Quests.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Instances: Moria Cluster Part I

The Moria instances do not scale with level and were designed for groups of 6 or 12 players between level 54 and level 58.

The instances are located throughout Moria and tend to drop a lot of loot, especially Moria reputation tokens, legendary item relics and heritage runes.

There are also a lot of deeds to be done so they can be a good place to gain some extra titles, virtues and Turbine Points.

The Forgotten Treasury - 6 person instance, level 54

On entering the central room of the Forgotten Treasury in the Silvertone Lodes, Morhûn warns you that the treasure belongs to the orcs and tells his guards to lock the gates. You are trapped in a puzzle and need to defeat the guards and rotate the correct statues. The mini-bosses drop either purple or yellow gem shards which can be used later.

The central room and statues

The first statue to the left of the entrance (when looking towards the central statue) is guarded by Nardurgûl. The second is guarded by Frûzgûl. The third statue is guarded by Darûkûrz. The first statue on the right of the entrance is guarded by Lorzgûl. The second is guarded by Mokza. The third is guarded by Narghug. Note that if looking at the minimap, these will be on the opposite sides as the map shows the entrance at the north.

It may be easier to clear the room then try to solve the puzzle. If you try to rotate the wrong statue, you will take some damage and reset the puzzle. Once complete, the room lights up and the entrance and stairwell to the centre is blocked off. You can still jump down though. Morhûn waits in the antechamber behind.

After defeating Morhûn, return to the central room where two large trolls, Urauth and Skûm, will come to attempt to avenge their master. The purple and yellow gem shards may be helpful for weakening these trolls.

The statue guardians

PS. I would offer to provide a spoiler on what order to rotate the statues, but the order changes each time an instance is created.

The Grand Stair - 6 person instance, level 56

The Grand Stair in the the Redhorn Lodes offers a daily challenge to defeat Igash, the final boss, but leave several of his associates alive. There is also some interesting lore to the instance: Mazog has Igash collecting tribute from orc tribes in Moria, but the White Hand have had enough and Ilzkâl and Nardur are planning to take out Igash and his followers and keep the tributes for themselves.

Lots of stairs and bridges
For challenge mode, you should defeat Ilzkâl then race straight ahead to Nardur within 10 minutes (after 10 minutes, the bridges to his stronghold are disabled and Nardur escapes). Then go to Igash and defeat him without killing The Devoted.

For normal mode, after defeating Ilzkâl, if you turn left, you'll face The Beast and Gothgaash. Turning right, the paths are patrolled by warg-riders and goblins loyal to Igash. There is a T-intersection with a group of White Hand orcs on the left and a stairway leading down to the Highpeak Kennels on the right. The Kennels is home to Glothrok the Vile. Both paths lead to Nardur's Station. Through the gate, the White Hand orcs loyal to Nardur are fighting the Gazathrug orcs loyal to Igash. At the top of the stairs, the Throne of Igash can be found to the right. Defeat Igash and there is a gate that will take you out of the instance.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Crafted 1H Clubs Gallery now Available

I've just added the gallery for crafted one-handed clubs made by woodworkers. They have never been one of my favourite weapons in-game as I associate them with cave-men and rioters, but there are some that look ok.

Of course there's a baseball bat-like club (Stout Ash Club). The Yew Club is rather nice with the large jewels and is available at low levels. The Supreme tier clubs seem to be more metallic than wooden - some of them almost look like maces. And I think the Club of the Rider and the Wildermore Club are probably the most interesting. The Club of the Rider seems to fit the Rohan style nicely while the Wildermore club looks like it is sprouting fur, which sort of makes sense, as Wildermore is very cold, but also really doesn't - if you're going to bludgeon something, does it really matter if it is warm or not?

Baseball Bat

Ooh ... Shiny



Is that Fur?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Tea-time in Middle Earth

My farmer was planting fields of tea in Bree and found that she didn't just get tea leaves, she also got fine tea leaves, perfect tea leaves and young tea leaves.

Tea connoisseurs and people with legendary items may be interested to know that these tea leaves can be used by cooks to brew special drinks that provide a bonus to legendary item XP.

There's just one catch - the cook has to have at least Artisan standing in the Cook's Guild.

So, what are the benefits of a nice cuppa?

Red Tea

"A simple drink loved by hobbits."

Red tea increases your vitality by 26 for 20 minutes if you are level 50+.
A superior cup of red tea increases vitality by 39 for 30 minutes if you are level 50+.

Great for chain drinkers - the cooldown is only 30 seconds!

Red tea can be made by Supreme Cooks, no guild requirement. This recipe uses bundles of tea leaves.

White Tea

"Light, smooth and delicious."

White tea increases the amount of legendary item experience gained by 5% for 60 minutes. Requires level 51+.

The perfect wake-me-up drink to accompany breakfast - the cooldown is 1 day!

White tea can be made by Supreme Cooks with Artisan standing in the Cook's Guild once every 18 hours. This recipe uses bundles of tea leaves and a young tea leaf (which seemed to be the rarest type of tea leaf harvested from about 6% of tea fields).

Green Tea

 "Smoky, subtle and invigorating."

Green tea increases the amount of legendary item experience gained by 10% for 60 minutes. Requires level 51+.

This one will leave an after-taste that lingers - the cooldown is 2 days!

Green tea can be made by Supreme Cooks with Artisan standing in the Cook's Guild once every 2 days and 18 hours. This recipe uses bundles of tea leaves and a fine tea leaf (which seemed to be harvested from about 14% of tea fields).

Black Tea

"Bold, powerful and dark."

Black tea increases the amount of legendary item experience gained by 15% for 60 minutes. Requires level 51+.

This tea has such a strong flavour you'll have to wait several days for the shock to wear off - the cooldown is 3 days!

Black tea can be made by Supreme Cooks with Artisan standing in the Cook's Guild once every 6 days and 18 hours. This recipe uses many bundles of tea leaves and a perfect tea leaf (which seemed to be harvested from about 10% of tea fields).

OK, so there's a long cooldown on most cups of tea, and the benefit to your legendary items may or may not be worthwhile. Perhaps while you slowly savour a cup (or make a special occasion of it and combine a nice cup of tea with Buttered Scones and Jam or Bubble and Squeak, also made by Supreme Cooks), you could take a moment to think of the English writer JRR Tolkien.

Random fact for the day - Did you know Tolkien and his school friends started a society called the T.C.B.S. (Tea Club and Barrovian Society) since they were fond of drinking tea in the school library and Barrow's Store near King Edward's School in Birmingham?