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

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Okay, THAT Was Fun :)

Well, as much as I've been complaining about LOTRO in my LJ, I have to say that last night's foray was much fun. It was the last quest in a chain that is not part of the main storyline and is actually fairly easy to miss, except for all the people posting to Looking for Fellowship: "Retake Weathertop!"

LOTRO is set in Eriador, Angmar, and the trackless wildnerness that used to be the the realm of Arnor (which is technically the land that Aragorn was actually king of). As such, one of the recurring motifs is helping out the Rangers, who as a group take quite a shellacking in this game. The first major storyline of the game is about a Ranger who is wounded by a Nazgul in the human or hobbit prologues, and falls to shadow (whom you are tasked by Aragorn to go kill) [1]. Several of the Breeland and Lone-lands quests are given to you by a pair of Rangers, Searadan and Candaith, who cover their respective beats mostly by deputizing adventurers to go do it. Some of their quests eventually end up sending you bouncing from one to the other as messenger, which is quite a hike.

Candaith's camp is at the foot of Weathertop, which gave him a lovely view of Gandalf's big lightning-and-thunder battle up there alluded to in Fellowship. Apparently, the force that Gandalf wiped out was the vanguard of a large group of orcs, led by an Uruk-hai, who had been sent by Saruman to conquer Weathertop ... and when you get back from one of your long cross-country trips to see Searadan, Candaith informs you that while you were gone the main force arrived and conquered the place.

Obviously, this will never do. So Candaith, you, and any fellows you may have must -- as the title suggests -- retake Weathertop. You storm your way up the hill, slaughtering stuff right and left and keeping an eye on Candaith's health (stupid escort missions!). Apparently, Candaith hasn't heard that you never split the party, because halfway up he sends you off on the left fork to go kill a couple of named elites, saying he'll take the right fork and meet you at the top.

Here's where it actually gets interesting, because there's some strategy involved. The orcs up here are in huge clusters -- dangerous even at 27th, but positively devastating for the quest's recommended level of 20th [2] -- but you can break them into smaller groups by creating distractions. There are piles of kindling for signal fires in various spots up the side of the mountain. If you light a signal fire and back off quickly, seven or eight orcs will come running to find out what's going on, enabling you to take 'em out in bunches instead of rushing the whole army all at once.

After working your way to the top this way, taking out the elites, their wargs, and the elite wargs, until you find Candaith, surrounded by a pile of dead orcs and making sad little "I'll hold them off -- you must finish the job!" would-be death-bed speeches. (As I say, the Rangers take a beating.) At the very top is the Uruk chief (one tough bugger) and his lieutenants (several other tough-but-not-as-durable buggers) for the Big Boss Fight.

Then comes the ringer: when the Uruk is at 1/3 health, he legs it for this enormous containing pen, inside of which is a OMGHUGE Cave Troll. A OMGTOUGH OMGSHAKETHEGROUND OMGPOUND Cave Troll. 0.o

Screw the Great Barrows instance -- here is where I start geeking out. "Galadhalion the elven champion is at the summit of Weathertop battling toe-to-toe with a massive killer cave troll to save the life of one of the Rangers! THIS IS COOL!!!"

I should mention here that I was fellowed with a 38th level dwarf Guardian (tank) and a 23rd level hobbit Burglar -- so the dwarf took most (but not all) of the actual pounding, the hobbit stunned various foes to keep us from being overwhelmed, and I dished out most of the damage. Even with such a higher-than-the-required-level party, there were just the three of us (and no healer), so it was still a tough fight. The other two were good players and cool guys, which added tremendously to the fun (some of the troubles I've had in the barrows have been because the other players sucked).

Finally, when all of Saruman's lackeys were eating dirt, Candaith came limping in to congratulate us on a job well done, and to let us know he survived. We exited the instance, divvied up the loot according to the various different characters' wants and needs, and ended the evening with mutual expressions of goodwill.

So yeah, the game can be awesome, when it wants to. I must admit that.

-The Gneech

[1] That reminds me, I ought to go back to Archet and see if the "pre-fallen" Amdir is still sitting there nursing his morgul-wound.

[2] LOTRO seems to have a recurring problem of lowballing level estimates. Remember that 16th level quest I couldn't finish 'til I was 24th? Investigation among the player base has revealed that it was just one of many.
Tags: gaming, lotro

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