A quest made me feel… dirty

Well, OK, not me specifically. But Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident has been running errands for the elves of Lothlorien, and frankly, he’s a bit concerned that they are in the process of slowly breaking down his humanity:

The first quest had me collecting orc poo. That was the first thing they had me do. They did that just to show me what they COULD get me do, and to instil in me a suitable level of apprehension. So I ran around and gathered five piles of steaming orc dung, brought it back in my inventory because they didn’t provide me with a suitable receptacle (I suspected this was on purpose), and emptied it on the floor at their feet. Degrading enough, I hope you would agree, for one who had battled the Witch King, and turned the orc bastion of The Grand Stair into a frolicking sight-seeing tour. But they weren’t finished yet. Oh no.

“Now we’d like you to take the poo and throw into a fire at one of the orc camps bordering our forest.”


“We think it will send them a suitable message.”

Melmoth’s on fine form with this post, and I laughed out loud several times. It’s a particular skill to make what is essentially a tale of gameplay engaging even to people who don’t play it, and in general LoTRO seems to attract a number of excellent posts along that line, with KIASA’s work being particularly notable.

The post also neatly highlights a very long-term problem in MMOs, particularly as we advance in levels – the tendancy for our epic, heroic, famed-across-the-land heroes to suddenly end up stuck right back at the bottom of the totem pole, doing the crappiest (in this case literally) jobs the NPCs appear to be able to think up. If it’s done really well, it can be a great experience, but more often it’s an immersion breaker – exactly why am I taking this from these guys, when, as Melmoth says, I’ve battled the Witch King?

Or is it the equivalent of a decorated war hero coming home and ending up stacking shelves at Wal-Mart? Either way, I’m not sure I want that particular grubby aspect of reality so well reflected in my games…

Do you think that repeatedly dropping to the bottom of the totem pole works in MMOs? Or do you feel the urge to shout “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

_Quote taken directly from Melmoth’s post.

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