A Light in the Shadow

It’s been a week since my subscription to WoW lapsed, and while I miss it, I’m trying to do a bit better and not let it impact me too much. To try to combat this, I’ve been playing a lot more LotRO lately, and I’m finally coming to the end of Volume One of the epic quests. I know I don’t need to do them, but I feel like I should completely finish with the Angmar plotline before I even think about looking at Moria, although I am excited to finally see it.

So Anthyllis has finally hit level 50, making her the highest-level character I’ve ever had in LotRO, and she even completed Books 1 – 8. Apparently, once you do that, you get a new title!

Anthyllis proudly rocking her new title

I had no idea this was actually a title I was capable of earning, so when I discovered it, I was beyond excited and immediately switched Anthyllis’ title from “Song Warrior” to “A Light from the Shadow”. I’m proud of my accomplishment.

In other exciting LotRO news, I’m finally going to be able to attend Weatherstock this year! Now, for those of you who don’t know, Weatherstock is an annual in-game concert series on the Landroval server hosted by the Lonely Mountain Band kinship (who are really awesome people). Bands from various other servers come to compete, and it’s generally a good time all around. This year, it takes place next week (July 20th, to be exact) from 1pm to 5pm (EST) on top of Weathertop (hence Weatherstock). There’s even an escort for the characters that are too low-level to safely make it to the top on their own. So if you’re elsewhere and want to check it out, roll a little character on Landroval, get them through their various starting quests, and make the trek to Bree to get prepared.

I’m excited, because in the two (almost three) years that I’ve been playing, I’ve never actually been able to attend. In previous years, I was only able to listen via various livestreams, but I want to be able to see it in person. Expect pictures, guys. :)

A Major Milestone

I’ve mentioned in the past just how much I love Middle-Earth. When I created my hobbit minstrel, Anthyllis, I used it as an opportunity to take everything I loved about the world and put it into a character. I decided that, as a hobbit, she had grown up listening to Bilbo’s stories and ventured out into the world to see some of the things he had seen and to possibly happen upon some interesting adventures of her own. After finally hitting level 42 a few weeks back, Anthyllis is now officially my highest level character in LotRO. Being at this level, however, it meant that she got to venture into the Trollshaws, go to Rivendell, and even meet Elrond!

And this isn’t even all of Rivendell. It’s gorgeous, though, isn’t it?

One of the things I personally love about LotRO is the fact that the major lore characters are right there. You can talk to them, you can quest for them, and, sometimes, you can even adventure with them. At the current point Anthyllis is at in the epic quest chain, the Fellowship has yet to leave Imladris, so the entire Fellowship is still right there in the city, and, yes, she’s happily visited them all. She even got to run around a bit with Gimli last night when they ventured out to destroy an evil dwarf.

However, despite this, it wasn’t quite enough, and I found myself incapable of describing why that was. The entire time, I couldn’t help but feel like something major was missing. I had gotten to see quite a few major landmarks so far. I got to see Weathertop earlier, and the Ford of Bruinen where the Ringwraiths were swept away by the river in the Fellowship of the Ring. I had gotten to meet the Fellowship. I had even met Bilbo! So why didn’t it feel like enough? Something was missing, I just wasn’t sure what.

As Anthyllis continued to roam through the Trollshaws, however, she happened upon a man further down the Bruinen river, who informed her that his grandparents lived in a village that had been raided by trolls, and he, for reason, wanted to find out what had become of them all these years later. It turned out their names were Bert, Tom, and Bill. It took me a minute or two before I remembered The Hobbit and why those names were so significant.

The quest-giver was talking about Bilbo’s trolls.

Once I came to this realization, I had Anthyllis mount up and ride for Rivendell, almost frantically trying to remember where Bilbo was in the Last Homely House. If anybody knew where they would be, he would. Fortunately, it didn’t take me very long to do. He quite happily regaled Anthyllis with the tale of the trolls (apparently, it’s her favorite) and even told her where they were. So, enthused, she set out immediately for the clearing where the three trolls were still frozen in stone, and I as the player, couldn’t stop squeeing for at least ten minutes while I took all the pictures ever.

Anthyllis, however, was finally able to see something she had actually grown up hearing about, and could not have been happier. What could possibly top seeing Mister Bilbo’s trolls?

Anthyllis is so excited to finally see something amazing from Bilbo’s stories

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is in the air at long last in Middle-earth, for the Spring Festival has begun! A celebration of all things bright, flowering, and green! (And also a celebration where you get to stomp upon some shrews, apparently.) Whether you choose to gather beautiful flowers during the entire event, run around (and get lost) in the hedge maze in Bree-land, or just choose to run about and do quests to increase your reputation with the Ale Association or the Inn League, there’s something for everyone!

Of course, we have our lovely festival-themed ponies, which, surprising no one, were the very things I first ran out to check. Unfortunately, ponies from previous years are locked away in the stables still, but Turbine gave us some pretty ones for this year! We can obtain the Springtime Steed (from last year, I believe) and the Simbelmynë Steed, though the latter requires more race tokens and leaves than the former if you’d like to add them both to your stable. The latter horse also takes it’s name from Rohan, which is fitting as we’re entering Rohan with the new expansion content. Simbelmynë (or evermind) is the name of the white flower that grows on the tombs of kings there, and it’s nice to see the white flowers on the horse’s tack in reference to this.

The newest addition to the LotRO stables, the Simbelmynë Steed! (Isn't it pretty?)

To get these lovely mounts, however, you need to get leaves to trade! You can gather leaves through a variety of quests, and several of these quests lead you into the hedge maze out in Bree-land around Bree’s festival grounds. Unfortunately for me, I swiftly discovered that the hedge maze and I do not mix. Although the hedge maze is very pretty, I soon discovered that I felt ridiculously claustrophobic in there, and this is coming from someone who has no prior issues with claustrophobia. I basically had to flee the maze as fast as I realistically could, leaving a deed or two unfinished as a result. So, claustrophobia sufferers, beware. This may happen to you.

How do I get out of here again?

Sweet relief came in the form of a quest called A Fistful of Flowers, in which you basically get to run around the Shire, Ered Luin, and Bree-land, and all you have to do is pick flowers for an hour. It’s quite possibly one of the most relaxing quests I’ve ever done in any MMO. If you’re after one specific flower type, pay attention to where the quest giver tells you the flowers grow. You can pick up any of the three flower types from any flower bed, but I wound up picking a lot more marigolds out in the Shire, for example, where they are many and abundant. Once your hour for the day is up, you can spend some Turbine points to pick up another ticket in the store to grant you another hour of flower picking time, but it isn’t worth it, really. You can gather a ridiculous amount of flowers in one hour, let me tell you. I ended my flower picking a little on the early side, as I didn’t know what happened when time ran out (spoiler: nothing happens; you just complete the quest). However, in about 45 minutes, I wound up with 83 primroses, 56 marigolds, and 41 violets, to give you an idea.

I wasn’t sure what these flowers were for, as I’ve never participated in the Spring Festival before, but I soon found out. Apparently, these flowers are barter items that you can exchange for gift boxes! You can get a variety of different things out of them, but the one thing I was certainly not expecting was the one thing I was the most pleased to get. Apparently, the RNG tables were making up for the fact that Anthyllis never saw a single mount out of the Anniversary festival, because I opened a gift box to reveal a Steed of the Jester within. Her name is Jangles and she makes jingling bell sounds when moving. It’s adorable. This particular pony comes with 250 health and 68% speed, a nice step up from the 62% you get with pretty much every other pony in the game.

Anthyllis upon her Steed of the Jester.

Unfortunately, I tend to fail a bit at guides, and there’s so much more going on for the festival that I haven’t even covered in this post. Never fear, though! A Casual Stroll to Mordor has a fantastic Spring Festival guide out as of today, detailing everything you can do during the festival, and also a nice list of some of the generic things (such as various racial dances you can earn) that occur during every major festival in the game. Do check it out, and perhaps I’ll run into you in Middle-earth!

A Hobbit’s Tale

Today, it occurred to me that I don’t talk about LotRO as much as I probably should. It may seem like a strange realization to come to, but, after all, I hold just as much love for Tolkien’s Middle Earth as I do Azeroth or the galaxy at large. In fact, I probably hold more love in my heart for Middle Earth than I do any other fantasy world currently in existence simply because I grew up with the stories. I remember stumbling upon my uncle’s boxed set of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and initially thinking they looked interesting. Because of my interest, my uncle would tell me what the books were about, and we’d write stories about what happened after the War of the Ring was ended up in his loft. Once I could actually read, I confiscated the books and read them in the early hours of the morning while I waited for everybody else to get up (he promptly bought me my own boxed set of the books, including the Hobbit, as a Christmas present). When the films came out, I naturally dragged my uncle along with me to go and see them, because, really, I couldn’t imagine anybody else going with me. He even bought me the extended edition DVD sets with their decorative boxes and little statues. To this day, I proudly display the Argonath bookends (though one of them sadly lost its hand) and the Minas Tirith box on my dresser.

Given all that, I’m sure you guys can imagine that when I discovered there was an MMO based on the books that held so many memories for me, I squeed like the dork I was, downloaded it, and played the hell out of it, though altoholism sunk it’s teeth into me very early on and I had a character list full of several characters that I’ve never really touched. They’ve since been deleted. I abandon the game every so often, but, in the end, I always come back to it, and I know that Middle Earth will always be there waiting for me.

It’s strange to think of how things would have been different if LotRO was the game that sunk its claws into me ages before Azeroth ever did. Pen and Shield might not even exist! I’d still be blogging, but the blog might have been titled something different, something hobbity (for I’m a hobbit at heart), and I’d be blogging under the name Anthyllis Greyburrow, the name of my main, a hobbit minstrel on the Landroval server. Speaking of, it occurs to me that I have yet to show off a picture of my girl, so… Meet Anthyllis!

Anthyllis says, "Hello, everybody!"

Anthyllis is, naturally, a hobbit of the Shire, who was fascinated by the stories of Bilbo’s adventures. Curious by nature, Anthyllis wanted to see everything Bilbo had seen, although the rest of the Greyburrows didn’t approve. She, however, was not to be deterred and set forth to Bree. Unfortunately, she didn’t exactly make it there. She got sidetracked by being attacked by brigands, seeing a Black Rider (scary stuff), and then getting sucked into the fate of Middle Earth while more hobbits were off bringing a ring to the elves and beyond. At that point, she was a bit too curious about the rest of the world to turn back. Besides which, all of this might make a good story to tell someday!

Unfortunately, LotRO is one of those “occasional” games for me, so poor Anthyllis only seems to get love from me every so often. It also doesn’t help that the game gets a bit lonely for me sometimes. Anthyllis is kinless and there isn’t random green text to keep me company as I go out and quest in the world. It’s hard finding a guild or group of people who are okay with you disappearing for several days at a time as you try to balance your free time between three different games and they won’t remove you due to inactivity. In spite of all that, though, I’ve been rather dedicated to LotRO over the past few days, putting in several hours worth of time to finally get Anthyllis to level 30 and hit the end of Book 2 of Volume One of the epic storyline. I’m very excited to keep going, though I’m getting little tired of fighting corrupted trees that decide to uproot themselves and attack me. I swear, they’re everywhere