Thursday, September 24, 2009

A little less Extreme

So, as I've been mucking my way through the lower levels in LOTR it's occurred to me that one of the things I like about LOTRO is that it's a little less "extreme."

Now I don't mean that the game is any less intense or anything like that, rather that the classes, as I've found them are not so specialized that they cannot do anything else.

For example, the Hunter in LOTR is very similar to the mage in WoW. It’s a ranged nuking class. However, if you get into melee with the mage, lets face it, the mage is done for. All he can really do is try to perform some maneuver or ability that will put you at range again. If they can't, more than likely, they are toast.

But In LOTR the Hunter can fight in melee. Sure it may not be the most effective and there's a loss in DPS. But the bottom line is that the hunter carries melee weapons and knows how to use them. As a player I find it satisfying to not have to run like a little girl from anything and everything and to have a few abilities to finish off my opponent should he get into melee with me.

I've also found that this is true with Wardens. They are melee fighters and sure they may not have the best ranged attack in the world, but it's there and it's strong enough to down a mob of equal level.

I find it to be a nice compromise. No one will ever mistake my hunter for a melee fighter, but when my back’s against the wall, it's nice to have options.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Here follows the tale of Ellote Wyrmsbane.

In the middle years of the Third Age, there came forth from Imladris, Ellote the bard and her companion Morde, the rune caster. They sought adventure in the kingdoms of Men, now under threat from the realm of Angmar in the north. In Bree, they found kindred souls in Nimwillyn of the Shire, Hugh of Dunland, and Avacar of Gondor. From there, they ventured forth into the Great Barrow, defeating its dark lord. From his lair, Ellote claimed the sword Sulring, which she bore for many days. But also in that lair, Morde laid his hands upon a book of ancient magic, and it began to consume him. For the Rings of Power are not the only artifacts of evil in the world.

After gaining a new companion, a shield-maiden of the Eotheod, Ellote journeyed ever northward. They came to Cammeth Brin the capital of Rhudaur, now under thrall of Angmar. There was her first battle against the Nine and their minions. As they entered the palace, seeking to rescue the captives therein, the power of the book took hold of Morde and he felled many foes. Ellote herself struck down the king of Rhudaur, servant and slave of Angmar that he was.

From Rhudaur, they ventured further north, to Gundabad, for they had learned that Angmar's assault upon Arthedain was imminent. They entered the fortress by secret ways, through the lair of a great dragon. Greed however took hold of Hugh and the swiped a mere trifle of the dragon's horde in its absence. That act would come to haunt the companions in time to come.

Within the fortress, they found the battering ram, Grond, and sought to destroy it. But it was guarded by many foes, not the least of which was Angmar himself, the dread Witch King. As Ellote succumbed to his evil power, Morde unleashed the full power of the book, summoning forth a daemon of the outer world as he did so. In the chaos of the battle between the two minions of darkness, the companions escaped.

No longer was the evil of the book concealed and as they fled, the companions made an oath to seek the book's destruction. In the archives of Fornost, it was learned that only the fiery breath of a dragon could destroy the book. So once more, the companions set out to find a dragon's lair. The closest known lair was on the southern border of Angmar, the home of the dragon Corligon the Red.

Within the lair, the companions faced down the wyrm. Morde cast himself into the dragon's maw, breaking both his body and the evil power of the book. This act sorely wounded the dragon, but just as victory seemed certain, another dragon joined the fray. For the dragon of Gundabad had sensed his stolen treasure was near and had come to reclaim what was his.

Then Ellote took up her bow, and the shield-maiden her spear. Avacar charged forth, as Ellote loosed. Her shot was true, piercing Corligon's brain through his eye and casting down the great wyrm. Its body struck down Avacar as it fell. But the Eotheod's spear was also true and the dragon of Gundabad fell also. The surviving companions fled to the south to nurse their hurts of both body and soul.

So ended Ellote's first Fellowship and from thereafter, Ellote became known as the Wyrmsbane, for she and her companions had slain not one, but two of the great beasts at once. Yet despite this great glory, her heart was heavy, for her companions had died or deserted her. She gave birth to her firstborn son soon thereafter, Saemonades, whose father could be none other than Morde. But even this act brought her no joy. She departed Imladris for lands of the south, hoping to sooth her troubled heart with more adventure, perhaps seeking her death at the hands of the servants of the Enemy.

She came to the city of Men on the borders of Mordor, Minas Ithil, and there sought solace. To buy room and board, she played music and soon her renown with a lute brought her to the attention of the queen of the city. She performed before the royal court and there joined with a new group of companions: Tu-Amarthanon of the Southrons and Nonamae of Minas Ithil. A dwarf there was also. Together these were conscripted by the queen to seek out servants of the Enemy within the city. After uncovering and destroying a nest of them within the city, Ellote journeyed forth into the land of Mordor to find the rest.

Their journey was beset with ill luck from the start. Tu-Amarthanon fell before a band of orcs and Nonamae fled into the night. Only Ellote and the dwarf remained to be taken in thrall. The orcs took from Ellote her mighty blade Sulring and the bow that had laid low the dragon and threw her into a vile dungeon to rot.

But when the orcs came to torture her, she and her remaining companion won free against many foes. For in her torment, Ellote became fell and terrible and none could stand before her. They escaped from Mordor and then parted ways. Ellote went north to Lorien.

But few have ever escaped from the dungeons of the Enemy and Ellote's own people believed her story not. Forsaken by her own, Ellote ventured to Mirkwood, where she was espied by the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. For he had a task and found the elven bard, now abandoned and alone, much to his needs.

Servants of the Necromancer brought Ellote to Dol Guldur and there he offered to restore her former glory, if only she would serve him in a single task. Far to the south, he said, was a group of elves, the Court of Ardor, who had found a means to cast down the Sun and Moon from the sky. Such an act would throw the world into chaos and loose the bindings that held Morgoth, the Great Enemy, in the outer darkness. Fearing this doom, Ellote heartily agreed, knowing not the true identity of the Necromancer.

The Necromancer then opened his armory to Ellote, allowing her the pick of his stores. She chose from among them the infamous sword of Maeglin, Anguirel, and an elven bow taken from a fallen Galadhrim. So armed, she journeyed far to the south and passed out of all memory and knowledge for a time.

After nearly a century, she returned, appearing in Imladris before Elrond with a fantastic tale of how she and numerous companions had cast down the Court of Ardor and prevented the return of the Black Enemy, Morgoth. But to Elrond, it was an idle tale, full of falsehood, for he could not see beyond the truth that Ellote had taken refuge with the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. Seeing her as in league with enemies of the Free Peoples, he declared her life forfeit and would have had her slain had not the words of Saemonades, her son, persuaded Elrond otherwise.

Thus, it became Elrond's judgment that she remain confined in Imladris. The accursed sword of Maeglin and her bow were taken from her and placed in Elrond's armories, tokens to be held there until Elrond judged her faithful once more.

Although vexed by her confinement, Ellote made the best of things, marrying and giving birth to a daughter. She herself commissioned a group of adventurers to retrieve her lost sword, Sulring, when rumor of it coming north again reached her ears. Although the companions were successful in this quest, Elrond again saw fit to take the blade from her and extend further his distrust of her.

For a thousand years, this continued. The Kingdoms of Men rose and fell in the north. Angmar was cast down and left in ruin. Great events and tales, but Ellote entered not into them, for she remained a prisoner in Imladris. But when the Ring of Power was discovered in the lands of the Shire late in the age, Ellote petitioned Elrond to be given the chance once more to be proven faithful, and in this, Elrond relented., but with a single condition. Her weapons of old would remain in Imladris and that only when she had proven worthy of them could she take up Sulring and Anguriel once more. Ellote then headed for Bree to continue her quest. What be her doom from henceforth remains to be written.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Tale of Tarqwin

As told by Shelwin Kelnarn

It’s one thing when you’re the runt of the litter. It’s something else when all of your kind are thought of that way. Tarqwin was the second eldest of 5 siblings, 3 sons and 2 daughters. His family moved out to Archet after thier farm in Buckland was taken by fire. Archet had lush green pastures waiting to be tilled and the hands of skilled hobbit farmers were a welcome addition to the area.

However, growing up in Archet was not easy for a young hobbit. The human children were bigger and matured faster than Tarqwin. While not small for his own kind, he was always the smallest of the boys playing whatever the game of the day was. He was not skilled with the wooden swords the fought with, nor could he run as fast or jump as high as the other boys. But all in all he liked the humans. They had a zest for life that could not be denied and while his father kept on telling him that a hobbit’s place was in the home, as he watched his friends leave Archet in search of new opportunity, there was a small part of him that longed to see what was out there.

It wasn’t until his early teens that he discovered the bow and it proved to be a great equalizer for him. With a bow in his hand his small stature didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. He took to archery very quickly and soon surpassed the other boys in the village with he skill. He spent a great amount of time hanging out at the hunting lodge and would go out into the wilds with any hunter who would take him. Gradually he learned the ways of the forest. Soon, he was able to help support the family with the game he could bring down and the suppleis he could forage from the forest.

Then, things began to get darker. The wolves in the area become bolder and began to venture into their lands killing the livestock. The local ruins became the base of operations for a small band of thieves who harassed the farmers in the countryside. When the local constable came to advise people to move into town for their own protection, Tarqwin’s family boarded up thier farm and took refuge within the town walls. When Tarqwin encountered the black rider on the road that evening, he knew that things would never be the same again for him or for Archet. Days later, the town of Archet was burned to the ground. Tarqwin’s father tried to help save the town, but eventually succumbed to the smoke and flames.

Tarqwin’s mother’s family back in the Shire heard of his family’s strife and offered to take her and the rest of the family in. But Tarqwin could not bring himself to go with them. His mother urged me to come with them, to the safety of the Shire and away from all the evil that these men seemed to attract. However, while he did long to settle down in the Shire, he knew that this was not his path. He had seen the dark rider and he believed that if something was not done that this darkness would spread even to the farthest, more serene reaches of the Shire. If that darkness was to be stopped, then it would take the actions of many of the free people to see it through and some how he knew that his place was to be out there confronting it.

He still thinks of his mother and his family often. He hopes that they are well and enjoying life. But mostly he hopes that they never come know the horrors and evils that he will be facing in the months and years ahead.

(Well maybe a little roleplaying is OK)

Sigh...Letting Go of WoW Blogs & Podcasts

Funny thing about giving up World of Warcraft...

It's life-altering.

I "forgot" to cancel my subscription last month. Part of me kept thinking I would hop back on and play. But, then I saw that I hadn't logged on since early July and I realized that my wife & I had wasted a combined $90 for July, August and September. It got easier to hit the cancel button after that.

My RSS feed contains a lot of WoW blog. It's hard to let go. But it's time to say goodbye to them too. Here is a list of the blogs & podcasts I will miss the most. (Yes, there are more. Yes, I'm pathetic.)

Goodbye Daily Druid, druid-news aggrigate extreme. I even appeared in your listings once or twice. I haven't glanced at the feed in months, so it's not a hard break for me.

Goodbye Flyv. You were a guild-mate and a teacher when I started to learn to feral tank. You've also moved on from WoW. But, your direction and my interests have drifted apart. It's time for me to accept that and move on.

For months, I really hoped Phaelia would return and provide us with more Resto4Life. Now, I'm glad you didn't. You helped make my wife an amazingly awesome tree and amused her endlessly. She had so much fun reading your blog that I started reading it and eventually tried to learn to Boomkin & Tree when the dual-spec option happened.

Goodbye Pike, reluctant leader of the hunter community. Most hunter-blogs flare bright for a while then burn out. Yet, Aspect of the Hare goes strong. Elitist Jerks may have taught me how to raid, you taught me how to enjoy it. After I swapped to full-time feral druid to off-tank for my little 10-man guild, I kept reading your blog. Now, sadly, we have no place in each other's lives. I may miss you most of all.

Goodbye Kalon and your blog ThinkTank. Think tank is the ultimate tanking (mostly feral) blog around. Yours may be the hardest break. How is it that 2 months have gone by since I last played Rhus, yet I'm still reading your theory craft? Why do I care about the Feral loot-tables in the Coliseum? Why would I care if I should keep T8 cat gear or not? (Especially since I slowed and then stopped my progression before getting any T8 gear for my cat.) Your blog is like catnip rolled in honey. What feral off-tank (current or retired) can resist you?

Goodbye Randydelux & Scott. Last week when I caught myself loading your latest podcast on my iPod before a hike, I knew it was time to stop. There are no LotRO podcasts that can even hold a candle to the Instance. I've seriously considered listening to your show just for the fun of it. It's not going to happen. ExtraLife will continue to be part of my day and I'll be trying ExtraLifeRadio.

I continue to follow and support Andrew over at Of Teeth and Claws in his game-blogging endeavors. I'm glad that he's branched out from WoW to write about all things gaming. I think his latest crusade against subscription MMO's is thought-provoking. I have a lot to say about subscription MMO's and why they work, but that's a different post.

Goodbye World of Warcraft, I've canceled my subscription, deleted all the theory-craft sites from my bookmarks and now, I'm not even going to read blogs about you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Concerning Roleplaying Hobbits

So I haven't posted about LOTR:O yet. To be honest, it was mostly becasue my initial experience with the game was less than positive and I didn't want to rain on everyone else's parade. Everyone seemed to be having so much fun and I didn't want to bother folks with the fact that I wasn't. Besdies I was sure I'd finde my niche and start enjoying the game sooner or later.

Well, I've found that niche, or rather I found that I was in a niche that did not fit well with me. Since switchingto Tarqwin I've had a new zeal for the game and have been putting in far too many hours. But that has led me to think about how I got down the road with Shelwin to begin with and what I think it comes down to is this...

Roleplaying =/= MMO
I had a great time when I played Shelwin in a table top Roleplaying game. He was a lot of fun to play. But as I think back on the game, it was the roleplaying moments that I liked. In the game Shelwin did the last 4 points of damage to a dragon and killed it. In the roleplaying game it was magnificent fun. Everyone talking about the hobbit bard who slayed the dragon. We still laugh about it. But in an MMO that 4 points of damage would just be 4 points of damage. It's just bad DPS.
All the things I like about Shelwin were roleplaying things. Like his obsession with food. I could translate it into the game, but it wasn't the same. When grinding on Goblins does one really care that your title is Master Journeyman cook or that I can play desperado on my harp? The roleplaying aspects that I enjoyed tabletop, quite frankly, were pretty boring in the MMO. Ultimately the roleplaying aspects I tried o port into the game did not make up for the lack luster MMO experience. I just never liked the feel of minstrel, combined with the slower questing of the shire, and my system crashes it made for a slow painful experience.
Tarqwin however is a better MMO character for me. I've always liked the ranged dps role and he dishes out pain. His crafting professions I find useful and much easier to manage. I'm also hoping they may end up profitable.
So in the end, the lesson for me is don't try to make a game into something it's not. MMOs can be a lot of fun but while they are similar to roleplaying games, they are not. Approaching the game with the right attitude and expectations go a long way to enjoying the game a lot more fully in the long run.

Relan goes to the shire

Relan journeys to the Shire. He's told that agents of the enemy are beginning to spread even into the quiet world of the hobbits. His enemies are goblins & brigands. He is to defeat as many as possible for the glory of Bree & to protect the hobbit and their bountiful farms. So, he travels to Michael Devling with stern determination. The hobbits all eye him with suspicion whenever he mentions trouble. Trouble doesn't happen in the Shire. Perhaps the occasional wolf problem. But trouble?

So, he sets off looking for his glory. Sure enough, there are no enemies. The tranquility is utterly lost on him. He sees endless green fields and only thinks that perhaps the enemy will be over that hill or the next. He begins to wander aimlessly. Nothing. This place of green hills and pipeweed fields, of low ceilings and small doors grates at him.

Before he was sent here, he was on important missions in the old forest & the Barrow Downs. Certainly, it was filled with horrors that would haunt him for the rest of his life, but there was also exhilaration and adventure. Certainly, his duty was there. Wasn't it?

Perhaps over this next hill...