Hmm. I'd kinda like a "do-over" of high school knowing then what I know now -- but then, who wouldn't? I spent most of my time in high school wondering what the hell was going on and baffled as to why the world was nothing like what I was told it was going to be; I also had not had what you might call "basic training" in the necessities of being a realized human being even for my age.
On the other hand, I'm not sure what if anything it would change. The '80s were a very different world from the one we live in now, and even knowing what I do now I might not have had the resources to make a significant change from the current result. There's no way to know!
Having had a bit of fun with the barbarian (Arshan in sirfox's Furry D&D) and at least a taste of the elf archer (Celedras in jamesbarrett's attempt to continue his Greyhawk game before the loss of camstone), I'm now looking at some other concepts in my character idea drawer that I've been wanting to play with...
Halfling Wizard or Bard — Sort of an "absent-minded professor" type, this character idea originally came to me for LotRO, but then got shelved when that game couldn't support it. He's something like "old Bilbo" from LotR, fascinated by maps, old books, languages, and tales of the past. He learns spells more or less as a side-effect of his scholarly inclination and is inclined to utility things like grease or dimension door rather than blasting stuff. Later on does a lot of scroll-scribing and item-crafting. Might go with a wizard who has "bardic knowledge" instead of a familiar.
Elf Cleric/Fighter or Paladin — Just to be different. It would be fun to be a crusader in shining armor for a change.
Dwarf Rogue/Fighter — Your basic expert dungeon delver; due to his tendency to wear heavy armor he's not so much a sneak as a scout/trap tripper who doubles as a tank.
Halfling Ranger/Scout — Basically a variation on Maedhroc, this little guy patrols the wilds looking for trouble and helping those in need, probably using the "non-spellcasting ranger" variant if it's a 3.x D&D game and taking a riding dog as his animal companion.
Human Marshal — Your basic inspiring hero leader. :) Alas, I don't think I have the Miniatures Handbook dataset for E-Tools, but I'm not sure, I'll have to check. It would certainly require digging up a copy of the MH for the Marshal, although the basics are online. Essentially, he's a buffer like the bard or cleric, but with more of a war-captain feel. Alternatively, this guy could be done as a re-skinned cleric, perhaps getting some bardsong-like abilities in lieu of the ability to turn undead.
Snow and water mixed; very cold liquor; Shakespeare.—Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
England's Coldest Day
Since at least 1205, this date was proverbially considered the coldest day of the year in England. The claim was renewed in 1564, a few years into Elizabeth I's reign, when a "frost fair" was held on the frozen-over River Thames. John Stow's Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles (1561) described one such event: "The ice became firme and then all sortes of men, women, and children went boldly upon the ice ... People were many that set up boothes and standings upon the ice, as fruit-sellers, victuallers that sold beere and wine, shoemakers, and a barber's tent." No fewer than seventeen frost fairs were recorded between 1281 and 1814. At the end of the 1683–1684 fair, diarist John Evelyn observed, "The booths were almost all taken down, but there was first a map, or landskip, cut in copper, representing all ... the sports and pastimes thereon in memory of so signal a frost." The formerly broader, shallower, and slower-running Thames was narrowed by the 19th-century Embankment project, creating a swifter river that no longer froze over.
I've read that one before. You're repeating yourself, Jeffrey!
My first experience with the Great Barrows was a disaster of epic proportions. But hey, it was over a year ago and with another guild entirely, so surely it was just a fluke, right?
Admittedly, my attempts to take Maedhroc through the GB last night was not on any kind of scale with the Ghost Regiment fiasco, but it was still a confused mess. It started with me responding to someone calling for GB groups on LFF, which was ordinary enough. But then fifteen minutes later, he was still getting no other takers, and he and I resorted to killing corrupted huorns in the Barrow Downs to kill time while we waited.
Eventually we got a somewhat haphazard group — my L25 warden was the highest on board, but as I was also the tank, that was okay. We also had two champions, two captains, and a loremaster. A bit of a weird group, but feasible. Into the barrow we went!
We got through the first room, and immediately one of the champions bailed.
Uh, okay. The group organizer managed to find a L35 warden who wanted in. So much for my lesson in tanking! (Or so I thought. More on that later.) We get hooked up and start again.
First lesson learned: an over-eager warden is just as much of a problem as an over-eager hunter, an over-eager champion, or an over-eager-anybody-else. L35 barrelled on forward, just running to the next monster to attack it, not waiting while those of us who had to collect chalices (or the other captain, who apparently spoke primarily French with a smidgen of English thrown in, and who kept turning left when she should have turned right). Calls of “Hold up!” and “Wait a minute!” and “We’ve lost ______, need to backtrack!” were resolutely ignored in favor of getting to the next room.
Wow — this is just like my first trip here! Eerie.
But after a bad pull split the group into two major fights and nearly wiped us out, the rest of the group finally sided with my requests to go a bit more slow and methodical and we basically ganged up on the other warden. “I’ve got to draw aggro first!” he said. “By all means, do the pulls,” I said. “But make sure we’re all in the same room first!” That seemed to get everybody on the same page and at least attempting to cooperate, which made things go a little smoother.
At this point, the group organizer went link-dead. ¬.¬
Well, the rest of us soldiered along a bit further, but then the L35 guy’s “I can solo anything, yay!” instincts started kicking in and he ran off ahead. Me, attempting to follow him on the extrmely byzantine GB map, took a wrong turn and ended up smack dab in the middle of six wights. Attempting to respond to my distress, the French-speaking captain and the loremaster tried to help, but immediately got overwhelmed and died — followed by me in short order.
It was at this point that we all called it a night by mutual consent.
So, what is it about the Great Barrows? I suppose it’s mainly because it’s most people’s first real “big instance” of the game, and unless they’re an old hand levelling up an alt, the people running through it are still learning how to work in a group, how to play their class, and how to keep track of all the madness that goes on in one of those big furballs. But still — argh. That’s an instance I’ll be happy to pass up next time around!
What do you do when you only need two more Ancient Chalices in the Great Barrows, don’t want to join a PUG just for that, and really don’t want to beg a high-level kinmate to come hold your hand for that four-spider intersection where the Barrow Queen camps out?
“Careful Step” time!
I managed to slip around the corner to the second chalice and only had to fight one Barrow Spider instead of trying to take out all four at once. 12/12 Ancient Chalices and a map home, baby!
Have I mentioned I love my lil’ hobbitey warden?
It starts in Bree, where you put off those Great Barrow instance quests again and again because you know it’s going to be a painful slog. Then, in Lone Lands, you find yourself halfway through Book 2 and you’ve gone up to the North Downs to start Book 3 because facing Garth Agarwen with a bad PUG is just too much to bear tonight — maybe tomorrow. Oh, and those trolls. And cripes, the Dourhand Leader. Oy.
Soon, the North Downs solo quests are burned through and you’re staring at Fornost, wondering how this could come to pass. Oh, look! A run to Tinnundir! You can do that. And hey, while you’re making runs anyway, now would be a good time to grab that stable in Rivendell!
You have reached your maximum number of active quests.
What? No way! I only have a couple scattered around. I suppose I could delete those Evendim ones, I’m not actually going to do those for a while … and there’s no point in keeping Dourhand Leader, that’s gone grey. Let’s see what I can bang out tonight…
ACK! They’re all Fellowship quests!
I wonder if any L60 kinnies would help me burn through the rest of Book 2? Of course, that spawns three more Garth Agarwen quests, but at least I’d finish something…
Valuable tanking experience yesterday: I joined a group hunting trolls in the Lone Lands for a deed, as I needed them for a quest and it was a mutually-beneficial arrangement. The group consisted of three Rune-Keepers  and myself; as the Warden, my job was to tank, while one of the RKs was on healing duty and the rest went straight DPS.
The first one or two pulls went a little roughly as one of the damage-dealers was a little too eager to jump in. However, once the group leader had convinced that person to let me do the pulls first and build aggro, it went much smoother. Soon we were mowing down the trolls like so much grass. The only hairy moment was when we got an add in the form of a stone-lobbing troll in the distance who stunned me. Fortunately, the trolls then started attacking the RKs’ healing stones instead of the Ruke-Keepers themselves, enabling me to recover and the group to take down the troll before it started squishing RK’s.
Later that evening I grouped with a L37 Champion and a L28 Captain to take out Svalfang, the L30 elite giant lurking in the northern Brandy Hills. I proposed a plan in which I would go in first (again, to draw aggro), after which the Champ would come in swinging and the Captain would hang back and heal (which the Captain was more than happy to agree to). Unfortunately, my attempt to sneak up on Svalfang was foiled when he rather suddenly turned on his heel and faced me; so instead of a nice ambush-stun-armor pierce start like I would prefer, the strategy became “CHAARRGE!”
It didn’t matter: in just a few seconds, between the Champ’s DPS and my getting a good stun in with The Boot — and of course the Captain keeping us alive — Svalfang fell like a load of bricks and we were all headed back to Bree.
Part of being a good tank, besides building aggro, is learning how to recover from things like bad pulls. The Guardian has a bit of an advantage over us on that score with their instant-aggro taunts, but Wardens have their own tricks. The Boot, when it works, is worth its weight in XP, just for starters!
 My antipathy towards the class does not extend to other players. I endeavor not to be a snob.
Lalia, oh Lalia
what the heck is wrong with you?
You lost your cloak
You lost your mind
And to rescue you is a waste of time
I’m leaving you to the wights
Lalia, oh Lalia
why do you do the things you do?
You go off chasing
some dead prince
Your gullibility makes me wince
Stop cowering, help me fight
Lalia, oh Lalia
what the heck is wrong with you?
I rescued you
and your dad paid
but you’re back in the Barrows the very next day
I’m leaving you to the wights…