Lord of the Rings Online Guides on the Pot

We don’t just cover WoW on the Melting Pot. We love a whole bunch of other games too, including Lord of the Rings Online!

So, if you’re more about the Hobbits than the Goblins, we’ve got your coverage right here.

Quest Guides

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Lord of the Rings Online… Poetry Contest

I really love LoTRO. I don’t even play it that much, but I still love it. WoW gives us incredibly hardcore math, EVE gives us fascinating tales of corporate backstabbing, and LoTRO?

LoTRO gives us culture.

Today, the Casual Stroll To Mordor guys announced their pre-release competition for the new expansion: a poetry contest

“The Rohirrim have a heavy Germanic influence and their poetry shows it. Much of their poetry is alliterative rather than rhyming. Each line of the poem shall include four accented syllables. The first and third shall start with the same consonant sound, the second may optionally start with that sound, while the fourth may not match that sound. Rhyme should be avoided distinguish this class from the other two. In this form, vowels alliterate with all other vowels. For further information, see Wikipedia’s article on alliterative verse.

One example from The Return of the King:

From dark Dunharrow in the dim morning /

With thane and captain rode Thengel’s son: /

To Edoras he came, the ancient halls /

Of the Mark-wardens mist-enshrouded; /

Golden timbers were in gloom mantled. “

Under normal circumstances, a poetry competition would sound pretty dire in a sub-Twilight way. But from the detailed cultural and meter references I’m seeing in the post, the LoTRO playerbase are about as casual about their poetry as EJ are about their gear choices. It’s impressive stuff, showing that whilst every so often we hear chunterings from old-school artists claiming that games are destroying culture, the truth is quite the opposite.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the contest!

Quote taken directly from A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s article .

Find A Casual Stroll To Mordor at http://www.casualstrolltomordor.com/ .

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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.

Find Killed In A Smiling Accident’s homepage at http://www.kiasa.org/_

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Making sure your outfit matches your… horse?

I’m continually very impressed with what I see coming out of Lord of the Rings Online these days. There’s so much interesting, creative stuff out there, from the music festival of Weatherstock onward.

Today we’ve got another great post of LoTRO goodness.

Have you ever gotten a new mount and felt that your character just looked slightly wrong on it? Like something clashed, jarred, didn’t quite make sense? Well, Cithryth of A Casual Stroll To Mordor has been there, too – but being an experienced virtual-world couturier (and just saying that phrase makes me look around for the telltale signs I’ve accidentally stepped into a Charles Stross novel), she knew what to do about the problem:

I’ll be honest – when I first saw this horse I thought it was ugly. As soon as I found an outfit I liked that matched it though, I stopped feeling that way. So my new ideology is that a horse is only ugly until you find the right outfit for it!

As I said earlier, the key is color and styling. The main colors for this horse are gold, silver and brown. I’d say the brown dye in game that matches it best is Sienna. This doesn’t mean though that these are the only colors we can use. If you look closer there is also some white along the borders of the gold coverings. On the horse’s forehead and chest plate is also a brilliant pink jewel. The styling, since it is the Prized Rivendell Horse, is of course elvish.

Quoting this particular article can’t really do it justice – you need to look at the pictures. I’ve seen a lot of virtual world fashion, and this is some really impressive work – elegant, graceful and distinctive. And even though I’m no newcomer to costume design either (14 years as an indie filmmaker means you’ve taken on a lot of roles), I learned a fair bit from the article.

I hope the series continues – I’ll be looking out for the next installment!

What are your top MMO fashion tips? Ever sat on your new mount, zoomed out, and suddenly gone “Oh dear god, my outfit totally doesn’t match this steed!”?

_Quote taken directly from Cithryth’s article.

Find A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s homepage at http://www.casualstrolltomordor.com/_

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Editorial: A Sickness Of Levelling Proportions

Rebecca’s got the Hideous Lurgy Of Deth right now, but rose from her mass of cushions and duvets long enough to write this editorial.

I have a terrible affliction. It’s the urge to level a character as fast as their little rocket propelled booties will get them to the level cap, gear them up to heroics or raid standard depending on whether they have a raid spot. Yes, I have some kind of masochistic pleasure in doing dungeons. I like acquiring shiny new blue or purple pixels for my characters. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, when that’s done I think well, erm, what now?

I know, there’s loads of other stuff to do. I level professions if I fancy it for that specific toon, so a couple of my characters have maxed professions and the others languish with a level of professionalism that should only be associated with the Felwood Tree Surgeons’ Guild (seriously, go look, it’s awful). And archaeology – don’t even talk to me about that. I do two digsites before I start looking for a reason to stop, like nailing my hand to the wall. Achievements go hot and cold for me in an instant. PvP takes my fancy once ever other solar eclipse. Questing… let’s just say I don’t see eye to eye with what the Shattering’s done to questing?

Wow, that’s a lot of symptoms. Can you tell me what’s wrong with me, doctor? I’ve got an ultimately pointless urge to get to PvE endgame baked into my brain? It’s a common affliction among WoW players, you say?

Well, who’d a thunk. There’s a lot we could say about playing mentalities and why we play and how pointless or otherwise it is. But I’m not here to talk about them – what crossed my fried and extremely tired brain earlier was the memory that I’ve started doing the same thing in other games I play.

That’s right. Brand new games where I don’t know a thing, lots to explore, lots to find out, and I go into prepare for endgame mode. I start min maxing and working out the most efficient playstyle.

Oooh, this place is pretty… kinda… anyway, what were the quests in this area all bunched together? Oh yeah, I just got a new ability and if I put my talent points here and… no wait, what about there? No, let’s go with this other option, here and here, that’ll do, that gives me another new ability and a pet. Right, what order do I use all these to make things turn into shreds of red mist fast, and is it more effective to have my pet biting peoples’ lips off or showering me with wholesome fairy dust while I deal with the lips? Oh look, I’ll be level 5 soon, NOT FAST ENOUGH! *froths*

I honestly don’t think this is the best way to play a new game. I mean, it’s what some folks want and that’s fine – but it shouldn’t be ‘the’ way to do it. In a game you’ve never played before there is a tonne of stuff to do and explore, even if it’s just brilliant new vistas rendered in a new style.

So. With the way I’m feeling tonight I’m guessing tomorrow might be another sick day for me. And by sick I don’t mean “ooh, got a bit of a jippy tummy” I mean I’ve felt like death for the past few days. Not even warmed up. Still cold and surprised to be moving.

If that happens I wondered about having a play in something new. Maybe LoTRO. I just don’t know if it’s worth it if I’m going to go all crazily-efficient-lady-who-seems-to-answer-the-phone-at-every-office-in-the-world (you know there is one). I guess the best way to disaffect oneself of this mindset is to not play an MMO for a while but hey, I’m going to be bored tomorrow. Unless I’m better.

What about you? What playstyles do you get afflicted by and can’t shake, and do you think it transfers with you to other games?

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A music festival in LoTRO?

I often get the feeling these days that some of the most interesting stuff in the MMOsphere is coming out of Lord of the Rings Online – and this week, I got yet more evidence for my theory. Namely, Weatherstock.

What’s Weatherstock? It’s a HUGE – and I mean massive, as the picture in this post from Bio Break attests, hundreds of characters – music festival in LoTRO. Yes, music festival.

It turns out that LoTRO’s music-making features are very, very powerful – powerful enough to enable dozens of people to form online, hobbit-based (well, OK, not all of them) bands. Here’s 4 hours (I recommend skipping through it at random and stopping at the fun bits) of footage of the event from Middle Earth TV.

I really can’t think of any other MMO that could enable this sort of event – not even Second Life, where any single island would freeze up and die with a tenth of this attendance, or WoW, whose RPers would certainly be up for doing this sort of thing, but doesn’t have anywhere near the flexibility to make it possible.

A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s got a whole bunch of interviews with various bands playing at the event up – they’re interesting reading too, with everyone from professional-level musicians to people who’ve never played in public before.

Frankly, this sort of thing makes me want to reactivate my LoTRO account. Goddamn, it’s cool.

What other cool events should we know about, in LoTRO or elsewhere? And would these sorts of shenannigans make you join up with an MMO, or are you just in it for the Internet Dragons?

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Name Two Things That Build A Better Community – Go.

In the wake of the announcment and discussions about Blizzard adding a new premium feature, Spinks has come up with some interesting thoughts on what makes a gaming community better than others.  It’s quite a short post but Spinks hasn’t cut the point short – she’s done a good job of saying everything that needs to be said but keeping it to the point.

So what does make a community better than others? Spinks takes a look at a particular MMO that has a community with a better reptutation than most and sees two major distinctions between it and other games – the amount of PvP in it and the IP (intellectual property – i.e. Star Wars) it’s based on, and then expands on these points to look at the sort of community they attract and grow.

We know that there are other factors affecting the quality of in game communities, such as the size of the game, and how much players are encouraged to interact. But I wonder how far the IP itself affects things. Some are likely to attract an older crowd, due to when the original IP was written/ popular, others have a reputation for just being more mature in general because of the themes involved (imagine a historical Roman Empire game compared to a Pokemon MMO.)

It’s a good point – I’m pretty sure most of us know which game we’d go for out of those options (the pokemon one, right?)

How about you – do you think certain IPs or certain styles of gameplay help build better communities?

_Quote taken directly from Spinks’ post

You can find Spinks’ Welcome To Spinksville homepage here_

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Cooing Over Other Games’ Dungeons

You know me. I keep saying how I try to find time to play more Rift, LotRO and heaven forbid, EVE, but my time’s limited and it mostly goes to WoW because I have Responsibilities there. But I sometimes find myself cooing with wonder at what I’m not yet experiencing in those other games. And today, Alphaman over at Casual Stroll To Mordor has made me coo over LoTRO’s instances.

You should so read this: especially if you’re not a LotRO player. He’s describing how some new instances work, and from the point of view of an outsider his runs of the new dungeons sound really fun. He walks us through two dungeons, both of which have their own quirks that make them sound a whole world different to what I’m used to in WoW. It was when Alphaman described solving riddles mid-dungeon using emotes that I was hooked.

Challenge Mode is to use everything, which includes several class-specific interaction objects. Make sure to check each passageway, as there are some you can skip to finish the instance but will need to visit for the challenge! Although not part of the challenge, collecting each pirate journal along the way is part of a deed.

There are riddle doors that open by emotes and will change after 3 wrong tries. Some riddles are easy to figure out, others are hard. We just kept trying emotes on the door until we got it, though we did manage to solve a few using the riddles themselves.

I mean, riddles, in a dungeon? Gotta beat AoEing down trash packs.

If you’re a LoTRO player go read, get all hot under the collar for what’s coming to you. If you play another MMO read too! Some of these fancy newfangled ideas are the stuff of gamer dreams, or of waving at your own developers in hope. Alphaman’s post is a little harder to get into if you’re a non-LotRO player given he uses some specific terms but the general ideas are accessible and google’s* your friend for all else.

What do you think – would you like to see some of these features in your own MMO or are they not that unique a snowflake? Or do you have better ideas we haven’t even seen yet?

_Quote taken directly from Alphaman’s post_

_You can find Casual Stroll To Mordor’s homepage here_

  • Hint – “Bullroarer” is, according to google, LoTRO’s test server, not Alphaman’s character’s name.
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How About A Constant Stream Of Ambient Music To Game To?

So I was having a gander at Massively’s recent roundup of the best MMO blogs in 2010 and stumbled across a few gems that weren’t on my blogroll. Cool, right? Cooler still is what’s been posted today by Goldenstar of A Casual Stroll To Mordor, Massively’s top blog of the year. What’s so cool? Three words: Middle. Earth. Radio.

Goldenstar says the LoTRO  Dunedain bloggers are setting up their own radio station dedicated to Tolkein’s world and they say it’s going to be live 247. If you’re thinking “but I don’t play/like LoTR!” hold your nazgul for a moment – sounds like the radio station will be playing music that all us sci fi/fantasy fans might enjoy.

Goldenstar’s post is a very short description of what’s coming – for anyone interested he also announces a couple of changes to the Dunedain’s podcasts. But he got his information straight from the radio team themselves, and their post is a tad more informative. They sound enthusiastic and just slightly terrified about the show, outlining the range of music we can expect, how it’s licenced and what kind of chatter there’ll be between tracks. There’s even talk of them broadcasting things like the BBC Radio LoTR adaptation.

What do you think – sound good or are they going to struggle for material? Ah… now we just need something like this for WoW and EVE and gamers’d be on the way to taking over the world! Mwhahahhaha!

No quote taken from either post because they’re quite short and to the point

_You can find A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s homepage here_

_You can find The Dunedain’s homepage here_

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