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Lord of the Rings Online General Article: Returning to LOTRO Part 3

By Phil James on January 03, 2011

I am the Man With No Game. Not in the way you are thinking because, believe it, punk, I got game. However, I don’t have a main game. A man without an MMO to call home is like the Dukes without the General Lee; The A-Team without drugged milk; Street Hawk without...er, whatever it was that Street Hawk had (not much if my memory is correct).

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I’ve resubbed to LotRO for a month to see if the grandaddy of the fantasy genre can make me feel welcome enough to make me want to become a permanent resident. I’m beginning my third week and so far I’ve been a bit of a loner, doing the ORPG, but not the “MM” of MMORPG. I intend to fix that this week and fling myself into the community.<

But first, crafting. As I am writing this part, it’s Christmas Eve and I had to go into work today. At 6 am. Blegh. Somehow, though, I managed to get up early enough to play a bit of LotRO before leaving the house. My bags and bank vault had been choked up with all kinds of crud that took me a while to sort out. I vendored most of it, but did manage to salvage quite a lot of animal skins and various ores. I set off to the crafting stations and began to create.

I like the new crafting window, it’s certainly a lot clearer than it used to be. LotRO gives you two outcomes for the same recipe: you get a basic item and a chance of a critical success which gives you a jazzed-up version. The window lays out all the info you need including your critical success chance and also which rare ingredient you can use to improve your chance even further. You also get to preview both versions of the item, and I was amazed to see how much better the improved version was. In the old days, I didn’t much bother with the critical success part of the whole thing, but now that I’ve seen the payoff, I’m crafting away like a master artisan. I’m also making a fair bit of profit at the auction house, turning my skills into bills (well, gold coins really).

Once I was away from my anvil, I was off to make more progress with the epic quest line. A lot of these quests require a group, and as I have said in the first part of this series, other players seemed pretty rare. However there is a great way to compensate for this. Thanks to Feena750 who commented on that article with advice about the buffs you can get to help you along. For my last few epic quests, and unknown to me due to not paying attention, I had received a stone. Not just any stone, ye of little faith, but a magic stone. Once the rock was activated in the vicinity of the quest’s target it bestowed a kind of super buff, turning me into a one-hobbit-killing-machine, a tough hombre, easily the match of any group.

So, that was my solo group-quest experience, what about playing with real people? Despite my fears of low population, I did manage to get a few groups together. The first group was, well more of a pairing than a group really. We were two tanks questing in the same areas and decided to group up in order to get the tougher tasks done. This kicked off a trend as most of the parties I got into were, shall we say, less than the ideal make up. This took me back to the days before I played too much WoW, when I would play with all kinds of class combinations and nobody seemed to care. I’d read on forums how people had inched their way through dungeons with five or six healers and had great fun doing it. Those were the days, and I was living them again.

A day later and the server seemed to be getting busier. I saw a few more players running around and my chat box was scrolling up at a healthy pace, maybe not as fast as it would in Stormwind but enough to fill me with optimism. I had the cunning plan of taking up any offer for a group whether I was on that quest or not. Before long a call went out, I answered, the game was on. Once in the party, I realised that the other players were quite a few levels above me, but nobody minded (I have to say, I shed a tear for all those years in games where I would be told to come back later once I’d lost my noobishnes). As it turned out the quest they were doing could be picked up nearby, so I wasn’t left out. After an hour or so we had done the whole quest chain and I had dinged a level. Not bad for an evening’s work.

During the rest of the week, I had found that my experiences of finding Middle Earth a desolate place had been upturned and I had no trouble grouping up. Granted a lot of the time, I was helping out people who were quite a bit below my level or being taken on by much more powerful players, but that’s a good thing. It’s a bit sad that finding people willing to group up for the sake of it has become a breath of fresh air. Lately (and I’ve been caught up in this mentality too) there has been a lot of focus on the race to the level cap and end-game. So many times I’ve been accused of not being geared enough or lacking the experience for a dungeon or raid. How I’ve found LotRO is how MMOs should be. People willing to play with others because it’s fun. Twice this week, I’ve had to apologise for my lack of skill at tanking in this game, and both times nobody has minded. People keep telling me that we are just playing for fun – crikey! That almost makes it sound like a game!

I’ve also joined a Kinship this week. Kinships are LotRO’s guilds. So far the people seem friendly, though I’ve not had much time to interact with them. One player did help my group out in an instance though. We were struggling to kill a boss without harming any of the adds, which was the condition of the quest. Despite explaining the rules several times, our party wiped out the whole gang and we failed. Nobody shouted at anybody, nobody was placed on an ignore list, everybody just called it a day and went on their way. The player from my guild even offered to run me through it again.

It’s like I’ve always said, “LotRO people is good people”.

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