John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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All Right, Ghost Regiment, Let's LOITER!

Well, last night was the Ghost Regiment's (i.e, my kinship in LOTRO) big foray into the Barrow Downs that we've all been power-leveling to get to. On the whole, a bit of a washout, I'm afraid.

It was supposed to start at 9:00 p.m. eastern. The kinship leader made arrangements with the leader of another kinship that it would be a joint raid; there were 12 of us all told who wanted to participate. We gathered at the Prancing Pony half an hour before the scheduled launch of the raid...

...and stood around...

...and stood around...

...and stood around...

Some people were late, but not that late. Mostly it was just dithering. Most of the people in the various kinships were looking to the kinship leaders to say, "Okay, let's go!" -- but they just wouldn't do it. I tried to get the ball rolling several times by saying things such as, "So, are we all here and ready to go?" or "Okay, how is this thing going to be organized?" only to hear chirping crickets.

So around 10:00 p.m. or so, an hour after we were supposed to launch our foray into the Barrow Downs, we finally left the Prancing Pony and traveled cross-country with only a handful of detours. ¬.¬ Finally at the Great Barrow, we gathered and prepared ourselves...

...and stood around...

...and stood around...

...and stood around...

Turns out the game would only let six people into the Great Barrow at once -- it can be fully fellowshipped, but not done as a raid. So then came the random shuffling of people into two groups of six, making sure everybody was in the right party, making sure everybody got into the instance, and general dithering. Our group stood just inside the entrance to the Great Barrow for a good 20 minutes while our kinship leader tried to get the other group organized.

Finally, at 10:30, we're actually in the Barrow and fighting monsters. The quests in the Great Barrow are listed as being for levels 23 - 25; I was the lowest-level character at 19th (right at the halfway point between 19 and 20), but most of the others were 23 - 25, with one being 30th. At first we did well, making hash of the giant Barrow Spiders in the upper levels and slaying wights right and left. Our Minstrel (healer) kept dying, so the leader told me to act as his bodyguard (my character is a Champion, which is sorta like a two-weapon BBN in D&D terms). For about an hour or so, we waded into those wights and cut them down like so many acres of dead grass.

Then we got to what was basically the third level of the place. I was getting a bit frustrated already, both from all the dithering that had led up to this point, but also by the fact that every time we found stairs down we took them, regardless of how much of the current level we hadn't done yet. All of us had multiple "fetch this from the Great Barrow" quests aside from the requisite "kill X number of wights / spiders / rats in the Great Barrow", and so whenever anybody would say, "I can't find any chalices / relics / stone tablets," my reaction was always, "They might be upstairs."

I don't know if it holds true in MMO's (I would assume it does), but I know that in D&D the general rule is that the further down into a dungeon you go, the more dangerous it gets. It was certainly true of the Great Barrow -- and because were were making a beeline for the bottom of the dungeon, we quickly got in over our heads. We found a "named elite" wight, who I was completely against going after, but the rest of the group basically went after with a whoop and a cheer.

That was when everybody died.

The one wight, on his own, would have been beatable. In fact, one of the kinship members who was arguing that we should take him one, said, "We are many, he is one." But as this particular guy was a major villain, he had a fun little script where, whenever he was at 1/2 his hit points or less, he would flee, throwing a double-handful of lesser (but still plenty tough) wights at us to cover his escape, only to regenerate while we were fighting his mooks and come back.

So we got into a recurring loop: we'd get him down to half, he'd flee in a spray of mooks and regenerate while we fought them. But every time we went through the loop, the group was a little worse off, being lower on HP, powers, and so forth. So after three or four times, the Minstrel bought it despite my acting as his bodyguard -- and without him there to heal me, I went down shortly afterward. (Champions are like a paper cannon: they hit hard, but go down fast if their foe can stand up to them. When surrounded, Champions go down quickly.)

As you can probably guess, the loss of the healer and the damage machine put the rest of the group into a death spiral from which they never recovered. Everyone in the party went down except for one, who survived by running like heck. We regrouped at a safer location and lay there panting for HP for several minutes.

At this stage, I'd long achieved my "kill 20 wights in the Great Barrow" quest, and saw no real hope of achieving my "retrieve the MacGuffin from the Barrow" quest as we weren't doing any serious exploring. All of my gear was a shambles, as well ... I had to switch weapons because my main weapon was damaged and barely usable. Plus, it was midnight, and I'd been on since 8:30. -.- So I started arguing for a tactical retreat. Ms. "There's Only One of Him!" kept saying, "Well, just one more room!" and running off, and the kinship leader would follow her. Another member of the group also piped up, saying that he also had to be up at dawn, and got just as ignored as I did.

Finally, he and I both gave up on the possibility of a graceful exit, and said, "Right, well, sorry to leave you guys in mid-instance -- but that's just what we're doing." He left the fellowship and signed off immediately; I left and went back to town to repair my gear and turn in my completed quest.

After all that, I still didn't hit 20th level. That's the part that burns me up. 19th and 4/5.

Grrrf. Never again. Or at least, not on a work night. Cripes.

-The Gneech
Tags: gaming, lotro

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