Archive for June, 2009

Tanks for the Memories

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 30, 2009 by koljarn

Authang has chipped away at the quests and deeds from the Lone Lands until he has butted up against Weathertop, and gotten to the point where everything jumps in level. So, it’s off to the North Downs for him.

Trestlebridge has some easy quests and some nasty ones, but like any good quest cluster, there is a lot of overlap. Armor and weaponry are, of course, important to a Guardian, so Authang is putting further crafting on hold and saving his coins for a shiny new set of armor. He’ll have to beg Burhhelm to forge a new sword for him, because the price for a decent blade is not going to be easy to come by, what with all of the piece of armor and the new shield that he will require. When playing Burhhelm, I found that around level 25-28, you should try to save up and buy a set of purple-con armor. The protection value is immense, and it will last you a good 8-10 levels. The weaponry tends to need replacement far more often than armor does, so a green-con weapon may be the best choice (purple-con weapons just don’t give you enough bang for your buck).

A Phantom from the Past

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 29, 2009 by koljarn

My Guardian (AKA my jeweller-bot) decided to actually use his cooking skill. Really, it was all him, and I had nothing to do with it. Ahem. Anyway, I pounded out the apprentice level and mastered it, then I began to work on the journeyman level – only to find that I needed to make some stew for completing the level, and that stew required the use of a yellow onion.

So, I checked the local farmers, and they had none. I learned that they were only grown by players. Fine. I checked the auction house, and they had none. Irritating, but I decided that my best course of action was to call upon an old friend.

Enter Koljarn, my level 12 Hunter. Sidling up to the master of apprentices, I chose Yeoman. A dwarf farmer? Surely he can’t be serious. Ah, but I am serious. For not only can he grow the occasional component required by my Jeweller, he has the Brewing skill. Well, it’s called Cooking skill, but he only uses it for brewing beer. As Koljarn held the Brewmaster title in WAR, I find that it’s only appropriate to continue to swill suds and shoot at things as only he can do.

Anyway, Authang, my Guardian, completed his quest and continued on his merry way. I may give him a little attention this week, as Burhhelm has reached level 41, and is now using a pair of polished Westernesse swords and able to put the fear of the Valar into any undead that he comes across. Let’s see what the week brings.

Digging in the Dirt

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 25, 2009 by koljarn

One thing I’ve found in LotRO is that it can be difficult to find a source of ore that is suitable to craft items that are level-appropriate for your character. I’ve only gotten part of the way through the game, but here are some of the places where you can find ore with lower-level creatures guarding the nodes:

  1. Copper/tin nodes are everywhere in and around Combe and Archet, but I find that tin has a tendency to spawn near the road between Bree and the Shire.
  2. Barrow iron spawns in the northern and southern parts of the fields around Bree, as well as the Barrow-Downs (of course). You’ll also see some around Tresetlebridge and the Forsaken Inn, but you should be almost done with barrow-iron by the time you get to those areas.
  3. Rich iron is hard to come by, at first. However, I found that it spawn around Lake Nenuial, which is in the extreme northeast of the Bree fields. It spawns in small quantities, but it should be more than enough to get you geared up for the level 20-30 bracket.
  4. Dwarf-iron spawns in the trollshaws, and if you don’t go too deeply into the zone, the worst you will encounter will be a stray wolf. you can easily get enough to gear yourself for the level 30-40 bracket.
  5. I have yet to find a reliable source of ancient-iron and above. I’m still looking, though.

The point, is that by exploration, you can actually keep your gear close to cutting-edge quality (weaponsmith pun). Keeping your gear up to snuff is very important. Through planning and ambush, you can overcome any fight for which you are fully prepared. Good gear will help you win fights for which you are not ready.

Remember what one famous ranger said: “Live by the sword. Live a good, long time!”

Juggling Zones

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 23, 2009 by koljarn

One thing that I’ve noticed in LotRO is that encourages you to go partially through a zone, then move to another zone before coming back and finishing the first one. The way that it does this is by not just increasing the level of difficulty by one or two levels halfway through a zone, but making jump a good four levels.

What this means, is that you need to travel a bit more, which doesn’t bother me very much. I enjoy the exploration portion of the game. It is the sort of thing that will drive completists up the wall, though. The only way in which it annoys me is by filling up my quest log. Fortunately, I’m not above dropping a quest simply because it annoys me (I dropped all of my Fornost quests last night, because I haven’t made any progress on them in almost two weeks).

So, what sort of zone juggling would I recommend? Assuming that you start as a non-human, I would clear out your home zone first, then hit the Bree-lands and clear out all quests there, then clear the quests and deed from the other home zones. That gives you a solid foundation. From there:

  1. Do the first half of the Lone Lands.
  2. Do everything around Trestlebridge, the Field of Fornost, and Amon Raith. (first half of the North Downs)
  3. Head back to the Lone Lands and finish everything that you can to the east of Weathertop.
  4. Head back to the North Downs and clear out everything short of Dol Dinen and Fornost.
  5. Clear out the first half of the Trollshaws.
  6. Start on Lake Evendim.
  7. Etc….

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I expect this trend to continue throughout the rest of the game, so it will require constant exploration of new zones before committing to taking on the quests, there. It also requires a bit of quest log management – clear out the dead wood every time that you start in a new zone. You can always go back to pick up an old quest if you have a chance to do it with friends.

Let There Be “Ouch”

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 22, 2009 by koljarn

And the Champion said, “Let there be sharp objects which may be employed to poke holes in others.” And lo, sharp objects were crafted from metal, which was torn unceremoniously from the grip of the earth. And it was good.

I’ve never been much for crafting, but the relatively slow pace at which I’m playing LotRO allows me to stop and smell the roses, as it were. It also allows me the luxury of taking the time to create my own weapons and jewelry with my two crafting characters, something which gives me a little extra pride. When Burhhelm dishes out some serious damage, I know that it is, in part, due to me taking the time to ensure that the weapons that he uses are the best that are readily available to him. And, of course, who doesn’t like the nice stat bonuses that jewelry of the right level grants the wearer?

Burhhelm is inching towards level 40, and so I thought it was high time to leave the artisan level weaponcrafting behind and move on to the master level. Digging up enough dwarf-iron was tortuously slow, but I did manage to do it. The quest for attaining master level weaponsmithing involves going to the middle of the Misty Mountains (and I do mean dead-center of the map) and grabbing some rare iron to make a special hammer. At level 38, I found it challenging, but far from impossible. So, after much travel, I made the hammer and saved it as a souvenir of the occasion. I don’t do hammers or maces, and I avoid axes – I obstinately insist that Burhhelm is a sword-smith. To celebrate, I completely mastered the artisan skill level.

Likewise, Authang, my wayward Noldor Guardian, has been languishing at expert jewelcrafting for some time, now. Riding off to Trestlebridge, I was a bit nervous about how difficult the quest for artisan jewelcrafting could be – it did con purple to me. I was quite relieved when all that I was required to do was pick up some driftwood and hammer it over holes in the great trestle bridge itself. I don’t know what carpentry has to do with cutting gemstones, but I’ll gladly take the skill level and run. Likewise, Authang took the opportunity to master the expert level and had enough uncut adamants on hand to go halfway through the artisan level.

Other than that, not much else has been happening. I have been PUG’ing in the North Downs to try and clear my quest log, but the groups I get into go almost exactly 3/4 of the way through the quests, then they split up. It’s a bizarre trend. Oh, well, not a big deal – I’m quite happy just gaining a trickle of experience by slaying while I mine ore, then coming back when I’m 10-15 levels too high for a zone and crushing the mobs therein.

You’ve Heard the “Big Rumor,” Right?

Posted in Background Noise with tags on June 17, 2009 by koljarn

I’m talking about the one about a Neverwinter Nights MMO. It seems to me this was done by someone back in the Stone Age of the Internet… oh, yeah. AOL. No biggie, some ideas never get stale, right? Right?

Don’t misunderstand me. I enjoyed NWN and NWN2. They are great games (even though the original Baldur’s Gate had a far superior storyline). I’ll be more specific: they are great single-player games. They should not be a MMO.

We have enough generic fantasy MMOs out there already. No more, please. We don’t need another D&D Online.

A Sympathy Card for My Old Sound Card

Posted in Background Noise, LotRO, Offline gaming, Tabletop RP with tags , on June 15, 2009 by koljarn

It is now resting in peace.

It took a good chunk out of my weekend to diagnose a problem that I had when grouping in LotRO. When hanging out with Captains or any other class that relies on shouts, it was inevitable that my computer would crash. I don’t mean LotRO would dump me to the desktop, I mean the whole damn computer would BSOD. Some messing around, and I found that the vid card and the sound card were sharing an IRQ.

The simplest solution was to move the sound card to a different PCI slot. That did indeed change the IRQ. Unfortunately, the card would not work in that slot – Windows would see the card, but it would not allow the drivers to be loaded, saying that it was incompatible hardware, now. I tried moving the card back to the original slot (my motherboard only has two PCI slots), and I encountered the same issue.

So much for my old and cheap sound card. I tried the on-board sound (which I normally disabled in the BIOS), but it has no microphone amplification. That’s a necessity for me, because I use Ventrilo all the time (note: that doesn’t make me a social person; we password-protect our Vent server and even our channel). I ended up paying for a new card from the local electronics store because I was too impatient to wait for a web-based store to mail one to me. It probably cost me about $25 extra, but it worked the moment that I plugged it in and loaded the drivers. And it stayed on a different IRQ than my vid card, which made me happy.

Anyway, gaming related content follows:

  • LotRO: Mucked around with my Champion and got to level 36, but I have a glut of group-required quests to do. I’m still well ahead of my friend in level, so I may have to PUG a few of these.
  • LotRO: Wow, is it ever easy to make cash. I beat the stuffing out of the spirits around Fornost, and bought an entire set of new armor (purples, of course) in the course of a single day. I imagine that this is because everyone crafts to some degree, and there is just more supply than there is demand. I’m not complaining, though.
  • Pathfinder: Fun session, themed like an old-fashioned haunted house. We had a brief talk about changes to game mechanics, but I can’t say too much about it one way or another until I get a hard copy of the rules in my hands.

So, that’s all at the moment. Burhhelm may pop over to Lake Evendim for a bit, or I may get my Guardian a level or two this week. It will depend on the amount of free time that I have.

Here There Be Dragons

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 11, 2009 by koljarn

I have to admit that I was somewhat taken aback upon stumbling into a canyon full of drakes while exploring the North Downs.  Burhhelm happens to have made (and is using) a pair of dwarf-forged swords, which are supposedly more potent against dragons, drakes, and their ilk.  However, I do tend to give mobs which have mouths larger than my head a wider berth than normal.  I’ll probably get back to these drakes in a few levels, when I do my deed-collecting for the zone.

As a weapon smith, I do think it’s quite cool that the ancient dwarf damage type has a greater effect against drakes.  It makes different types of weapons more worthwhile, and I’ll have to keep an eye on what my options are at later levels.  For now, my eye is on the Westernesse weapons, which are supposed to do increased damage against the Dead.  Useful for getting those wight-slaying deeds out of the way, eh?

Long Time, No Post

Posted in LotRO, Offline gaming, Tabletop RP with tags , on June 10, 2009 by koljarn

My new job position (which may be temporary, it depends on what the higher-ups want me to do) requires a far longer commute, and I have no web access from the office, so finding time to post is problematic.  Sorry about that.  I’m sure that all of my readers (both of them) are disappointed.

Anyway, I have continued to plug away at LotRO, and I still feel overwhelmingly positive about the game.  My Champion is level 32, wielding a pair of dwarf-iron swords that he forged for himself.  I still get a kick out of being able to craft my own weapons very easily.  However, he tends to find a lot of precious metals, also.  So, what to do with all of that unused ore?

Enter Authang, my pointy-eared jeweler and Guardian.  While I’m not a fan of playing a tank class, the Guardian is more than capable of dealing with mobs while using a shield as a second weapon.  I think I’ve found my primary alt.  In addition, his jewel crafting skills compliment the weapon crafting of my Champion.  It’s a win-win.  With all of the additional precious ore and gems that my Champion digs up, Authang is already up to his expert-level quest.

Of course, one can only dedicate time to so many alts.  Thus, my poor Gondorian Captain is going to be put into mothballs.  He’s tough, he can deal with it.  I found that the pet was just an annoyance to me (thus, I had better avoid the Lore Master class as well).

In the world of analog gaming, I still play Pathfinder on Saturdays.  The first few storylines in a new campaign are like appetizers.  Now, it’s time to get to the main course.  I’m looking forward to it.

Of the Height-Challenged and the Androgynous

Posted in LotRO with tags on June 3, 2009 by koljarn

I still haven’t completed everything in the Lone Lands, but when I hit level 27, it was time to visit the Dwarf and Elf starting areas.  Burhhelm suited up in his new gear (I’m always a little proud of myself when I craft weapons for him, I can’t really say why), and headed to Thorin’s Gate to start with.

This was more like it.  A newbie area full of killing quests, and only a slight handful of FedEx jobs to do.  I have Elf and Dwarf alts, but I do not play them much.  I’m one of those people that get fascinated by fictional races, and then play a human in spite of it all.  So, these quests were quite new to me, and definitely more my speed.  The zone is pretty compact, and I might spend some playtime with an Eldar Guardian that I had generated with the purpose of Jewelcrafting.

So, the question is whether to explore the North Downs or Lake Evendim a little with Burhhelm.  Actually, that’s one question.  I’m also wondering if I should consider joining a Kinship/Guild.  The problem that I have is that my schedule is not reliable right now, and I don’t want to get other people upset by not being available when they need me around.  In any case, it would have to be a very casual guild with no hard-sell on levelling up (I quite enjoy going along at a snails pace and collecting all of the Deeds, thanks) and filled with very easy-going people.  I’ll ponder this further.

Anyway, at level 27, Burhhelm has actually entered the age of chain at full speed, as you can see:

Party like it's 1099 AD, baby!

Party like it's 1099 AD, baby!

I do love the “Costume” feature that LotRO offers.  As one of my friends says, it allows you to keep gearing up without looking like some sort of hobo.