the_gneech: (Default)
Maedhroc deals with the local spider problem.

So LotRO has a new paid expansion coming out, titled simply Mordor. And I have to decide what, if anything, I'm going to do about it.

Once upon a time, I love love loooooooved LotRO. I wrote stories about Maedhroc Thornhollow, my little hobbitey warden, tromping all over the world.

Then they scrambled wardens and I didn't know how to play him, so I had to re-learn from scratch...

And then they did it again and I gave up on wardens, but champions had become OP so I went back to one of those.

And then MadeOfLions, the Tolkien ubernerd head writer left somewhere in the development of Rohan IIRC.

I choked down Rohan, a vast country made up of the same story over and over and over and over again, mostly on the momentum of happier days. I got stuck on the "battles" system, which threw away everything good about skirmishes and so never got through the battle of Helm's Deep.

You can skip Helm's Deep to a certain extent, so I moved on figuring I'd come back to it... but then I got to northern Gondor, in which there was no story, just infinite endless daily quest grinding...

...and stopped.

Other than logging in every few months to pay the rent on Maedhroc's house, in the forlorn hope that I may one day get back into it, and the occasional lowbie re-running of Ered Luin to remember happier days, I have not played LotRO in something like two, three years.

I miss it. But like so many other things, I miss the LotRO of 2010, not the LotRO of today. And with no income other than what I can scrape up with my writing and art, do I really have any excuse to buy an expansion to a game I don't play?

Now I have to admit, I am impressed LotRO has made it to Mordor. Lots of people didn't think it would happen, especially when subscribers started dwindling somewhere around late Moria/Mirkwood. But it also means that the game is nearing "The End." Even if they do the Scouring of the Shire, there simply comes a time when there is no more Lord of the Rings for them to do online. What then?

But I also find it interesting that where I lost interest in LotRO is also where I tend to lose interest in the books. "The world of men" is the LEAST. INTERESTING. THING. about Middle-earth! I'm all about elves first, hobbits second, dwarves a distant third, and fuck humans. The more the fantastic elements fade away and it just becomes a series of battles, the less I care. Fellowship of the Ring has barrow-wights and ringwraiths and balrogs and and and... Gondor does have an army of the dead, so that's neat. But mostly it has much fighting and killing of the orcs by the knights in general.

Anyway, I dunno. Like I say, I used to love LotRO and I wish I still did. But the idea of forcing myself to learn the game again and having to grind my way through Gondor just to get to Moria...? Oh, honey, I dunno...

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Rastan Kill Monsters)

(To the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire…” by Billy Joel)


Celedras, Arcangalad

Arshan’s always kinda mad

I haven’t played you for a while

Obsidian kills her foes with style


Maedhroc gives his foes the boot

Elsa’s tough but awfully cute

1E rules are dumb and hard

but they made my super-bard


(Singin’)

Referees don’t get to play much

We get all excited, tho we try to hide it

Referees don’t get to play much

But there’ll be no game, if I’m not DM


Playing Lachwen was a blast

but MMO fun doesn’t last

I don’t wanna spend the cash right now

to play my panda monk in WoW


But oh on tabletop to play again

Or just once for my paladin

The 3E rules were quite a cage

for Theran, my poor fighter-mage


My halfling ranger doesn’t have a name

I’d love to play him all the same


My human ranger had a plot device


but tough luck I suck at rolling dice


Natural 1’s all day!

No foes I’ll slay!


What else do I have to say?


(Singin’)

Referees don’t get to play much

We get all excited, tho we try to hide it

Referees don’t get to play much

But there’ll be no game

If I am not

DM…


(fade)


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Lachwen Lightning Girl)
Thanks to some tanking from Jamie, I was able to get Lachwen out of that dang swamp, and off to the more interesting parts of Dunland. I'm starting to get (some of) the hang of the class, having found that healing-traited, the runekeeper does a pretty good job of self-heal tanking solo, as long as they don't go up against anything with a really solid one-punch hit. Sadly, where I left Lachwen, puts her in the unhappy position of needing to go up against just such a foe, but I have to learn how to face it sometime, right?

Meanwhile Rufaniel, my mid-50s champion, is still just as crazy OP as the champions have been for a while. I tried her running in tank mode, and in AoE, and both work beautifully. AoE seems to be just a touch more efficient for landscape quests, at least, but switching trait lines on-the-fly is easy enough that I can jump into tank mode if I know a boss fight is coming or some such.

So I expect I'll be bouncing back and forth between these two for a while. Amusingly (at least to me), the two of them use almost the exact same character model and they're both from Mirkwood, so now my headcanon is that the two of them are sisters. I'm thinking of maybe tweaking their skirmish soldier cosmetics so they can run "together" that way; naturally I've come up with personality traits and how they interact in my head. I might even start doing story posts like the old "Life of a Bounder" series with them, although I'm not sure there's enough of interest to me in southeastern Middle-earth to support that. Maybe stuff in Gondor, if the game ever gets there; but Lachwen at least is a very urban sort of character and finds both Dunland and Rohan to be hick country.

I don't know why I'm suddenly interested in LotRO again out of the blue; it may be seasonal. Or maybe I just had a long enough break to be able to come back to it "fresh," I dunno. I do find it telling that I'm just not interested in playing Maedhroc or Galadhalion these days-- particularly considering that mechanically Rufaniel and Galadhalion are practically the same character, just at different leveling stages. But really, Maedhroc's story feels "done" to me-- his spirit was sorta crushed by what happened to him at Dol Guldur and then just ground into the dirt by his capture and imprisonment in Isengard. He has retired to his nice little home in the Shire to recover. As for Galadhalion, I'm sure he's still out there, probably raising heck somewhere with Shamat and Poppy in tales left untold.

It's time for new stories, with Lachwen and Rufaniel, to occupy my time off for a bit.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Legolas Nah)
So as I've mentioned I've been working up a new champy on LotRO. "Why," you may ask, "are you spending all of the time necessary to grind up a whole new character to level bazillion or whatever the cap is now, when you've already have a champy near the top who's got gear and deeds and emotes and is mechanically identical to what the new character will be when you're done?"

It's a fair question, for which I don't really have an answer any better than "Because I wanted an elf maid champion." The constant class-scrambling has put me off both wardens and rune-keepers, which knocks out Maedhroc and Lachwen; Galadhalion, although he has a special spot as my first character, has a ton of mental baggage associated with him that I'd rather leave behind. I also kinda need to train myself how to play the class again, and I'd rather start with a clean slate than try to untangle the mess of buttons that is Galadhalion's tool bars.

However, going through LotRO after having been more or less absent from it for half a year or more, I can feel a significant change in the atmosphere of the game. Many of the LotRO blogs/podcasts have gone dark; there's nowhere near as much chatter in the zone channels. The MMO business in general appears to be dwindling and LotRO is dwindling with it. It's not dead, not by a long shot, but it's also not, I dunno, trendy, any more? LotRO has gone from being the new hotness to an old warhorse somewhere along the way.

It's not entirely a bad thing; the people I encounter in-game are more likely to be hardcore LotRO fans, who are there because they love the setting of M-E or the gameplay or what-have-you, which means they tend to be a bit more level-headed, a bit more friendly, and a bit more knowledgeable than a lot of the problem players of days past. But it does leave the lower-level zones of LotRO much lonelier places than they once were.

However, I did encounter something last night that put a smile on my face: a pair of elves and a dwarf standing around the Last Homely House in Rivendell, chatting in-character by use of "/say" commands and emotes, discussing what had in mind to do. I eavesdropped on them a bit while inventory-managing at a vendor, and was entertained by the pure RP going on. On a meta level, the players were choosing an activity for their gaming session (deciding eventually to do some of the Mirkwood instances); in-game however, they described lightly taking a stroll through the warg-pens, for which the dwarf said he would have to go put on his helmet, and one of the elves advised him to make sure the eyeholes were lined up this time, causing a groan from the dwarf and chuckles from everyone else around, self included.

It was just a tiny little moment of RP, and I wasn't even involved, but I loved it. It's the exact sort of thing I always wanted from LotRO and have almost never found from the groups I've hung around with. It's also what I meant way back when, when I said I'd had more pure RP in six months of the #TwitterPonies than in five years of playing LotRO.

By way of thanks, I headed for the nearest mailbox and sent each of the three players a mug of Forsaken Inn Ale, with an apology for not having a better brew, offering each of them a toast. (As of the time I signed off, none had replied, but I imagine they were all in Mirkwood by then.) If nothing else, they did rekindle the hope I once had that there actually is RP to be found in LotRO, you just need to be looking in the right place for it.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
So I haven't really played Lord of the Rings Online in any big way for the better part of a year now; basically, there was a short burst right after the release of Rohan, and then just signing on once or twice a month to pay for my character's house upkeep. Given how much I used to love LotRO, this gigantic "Meh" from me on the topic might seem odd. It certainly seemed odd to me, so I took a step back and tried to diagnose the problem. Here's what I came up with.

The World of Men


First of all, we're in the boringest part of Middle-Earth, and gonna stay there from here forward. Rohan and Gondor are where I lose interest in The Lord of the Rings (the books), and so it's hardly surprising that it's where I should lose interest in a game that follows the storyline. When I'm in Middle-Earth, I want to hear about elves first, hobbits second, dwarves third, and anything else (including humans) a distant fourth. Humans are there because they have to be, but they are boring, boring, boring, boring. LotRO has been to Rivendell and been to Lothlorien. The only place I want to go that it hasn't been yet is Northern Mirkwood... and having been to Southern Mirkwood, that's probably close enough to call it a day.

If there was a Silmarillion Online, I'd jump ship in a heartbeat. It'd be depressing, sure, but at least it would be interestingly depressing.

MOAR Levels, MOAR Mechanics


Every time they release a new expansion, they scramble the game mechanics, especially for my favorite class, the Warden. I learned the Warden when it was new, then I re-learned it when they shuffled it the first time, then I started to re-learn it when they shuffled it the second time and made all the stances do weird things, and now they've added mounted combat to the mix and... to hell with it. I don't care enough to re-learn the class a fourth time. -.- That leaves me with the Champion, and there's really no point to me playing a champ because in any group I'd be likely to join, [livejournal.com profile] jamesbarrett's raid-gear-and-all-traits-ground-to-50 champ would make me superfluous anyway. It'd be all right for going through solo content, but since as mentioned that's all in the World of Men, that's hardly a compelling argument.

I did make a Runekeeper (my Badass Lightning Girl) and got her to a fairly high level, but I was never that great with the class, and it's another one that's constantly getting scrambled like the warden. Meh.

Time, Destroyer of All Things


The final element is of course my very limited leisure time. Even when I'm not trying to work on a comic, all sorts of junk keeps happening that I have to deal with, and so I have to be very choosy about what I do with my time. Right now, #TwitterPonies and Borderlands are way more fun than LotRO, so if I only have an hour in which to goof off, why should I pick the runner-up?

It is conceivable that I might become interested in LotRO again sometime; I go through cycles of interest all the time. That's why I've continued to sign on and pay my rent. But I don't know if/when that will happen. So until then, folks will just have to march against Mordor without me.

-The Gneech

PS: I totally typed "The Lord of the Rinds" as a typo in the draft of this post. Now I want to do something with that idea.
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
My little hobbitey warden is finally up to current on the LotRO story and landscape quests. Last night he also did his first group content since the revamped warden revamp and... wow. Turbine just really doesn't want wardens to tank, do they?

I managed to get aggro all of once; granted there was another warden plus a guardian in the group, and I was not traited specifically for tanking, so I was at a major disadvantage. But cripes! Pulling out all my aggro-yoinking tricks, I just couldn't get aggro for anything. In the end I gave up and just switched to the new "ranged DPS" stance, figuring I could contribute more to the group by pretending to be a hunter instead.

But... meh. If I wanted to be a hunter, I'da rolled a hunter. I really don't want to go back to the days of fighting my way up the aggro chain.

Oh well. I'll look into traiting and gear and see what I can figure out. We'll see.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
The first Book Quest of the Great River (i.e., the nightmare ride of the Rohirrim) is... FREAKIN' COOL. O.o I take back what I said before... Enedwaith and northwest Dunland were weak, yes, but I definitely like LotRO again. :) Gimme that epic story, babeh! Oh, and the Great River is a very new environment, sort of a blending of Mirkwood and Eregion, except with Rohirrim running around in it. All of which is also very cool! -The Gneech PS: I gotta double-back and finish off Isengard first, don't I? Whoops. Well, not counting the actual dungeon instances, I'm close.
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
I have to re-learn the warden AGAIN?

My brain hurts. -.-

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
So for the past few days I've put down a lot of other stuff and spent time running around in LotRO with my little hobbitey warden Maedhroc. I've had a hard time forcing myself through the current content until the day before yesterday... most of Dunland is Made of Boring, especially the central and northwestern sub-zones, and this is made doubly-tiresome since so many of the Book Quests (which are usually so wonderfully plot-heavy) have no story at all but are just "Go to hub. Go to next hub. Rinse. Repeat."

However, there is one shining bit of brightness in all the monochromatic brown, which I'm going to be cagey about to avoid spoilers. Suffice to say, your relationship with one significant chunk of plot isn't what you think it is ... and suddenly you're in Saruman's chambers, watching his robe do the many-colored thing and going, "Whoa, how did this even happen?"

It's a very cool twist that finally breathes some life into what has until now been "The Tale of Watching All the Rangers Die On the Way to Gondor." That, combined with the more interesting landscape of eastern Dunland, have combined to rekindle my interest.

Another factor seems to be Maedhroc (warden) vs. Lachwen (runekeeper), and the comparative difficulty level of the two classes. I don't know if the tactical damage scaling has been fixed since the last time I did anything with Lachwen, but she was having a real hard time being effective in Dunland, not doing anything like the damage she'd done in previous zones, while still being squishier than a marshmallow peep. Maedhroc, on the other hand, is all but unkillable against most foes, only really having trouble if he gets seriously overwhelmed or hit by chain debuffs (like one particular fight in the Cleft where he was stunned-disarm-stunned-disarmed-stunned-disarmed-dead). He has attempted to use the revised Never Surrender skill a few times in those "Gah I can't heal through this!" moments, but has not yet successfully pulled it off. Even so, Maed has been defeated a total of two or three times in this zone, compared to Lachwen's being defeated two or three times a night.

The net result of this is that I flow through areas more easily and feel like I'm following the narrative thrust, so to speak, rather than going through a slow grind of banging my head against the same fight multiple times. This makes my enjoyment level shoot way up, as "beating the game" is not the interesting thing for me. "Hearing the story" is the part that I like!

All of which said, I'm really hoping that the upcoming release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will take us back north. Northern Mirkwood, Dale, Erebor... I'm still hoping on you!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Lachwen Lightning Girl)
Last night was Instance Night with the Valar Guild, so most of the evening was spent with Maedhroc getting eaten by spiders in Helegrod. But before and after the Helegrod run, my flashy new runekeeper Lachwen reached 20th level in Bree-Land, opened up her first skirmish, and also joined her first fellowship to help a hunter take out that giant spider lurking in the back of the Old Forest.

Runekeeper tanking sounds like a terrible idea, and chances are that in harder content it probably is, but in this instance it worked well. For every large pull she plunked down Obvious Distraction (what she named her restoration stone), fired up her heals-over-time, and started blazing away. Being at level 20 while the hunter was level 18, she was out-DPSing him and so gaining all the aggro (anything she wasn't blasting was generally aggroed on the healing stone), but the combination of RK blasting plus hunter pew-pew made for super-fast kills.

Unfortunately, that's probably the last I will be able to play for the week; I have a lot of errands to catch up on, and if there's going to be any tabletop gaming this weekend, I'll need to prep for it. Then on Sunday it's podcast recording time. Alas! I just hope I can get her levelled-up and into instance content before Isengard gets out.

Speaking of Isengard and time limits, today is the last day for the Steed of Bright Days in the LotRO store, which has Lachwen a bit bummed. She has the red Isengard horse, which is pretty flashy, but she thinks the Steed of Bright Days is 20% cooler. Unfortunately, mean ol' Gneech wouldn't spend $20 of real world money on it. Still, you just know Turbine is going to keep cranking out horses as long as people keep getting excited about them, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if something just as cool didn't show up at a festival as a book reward in the not-too-distant future.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)

Maedhroc_WorldRenowned

Okay, the idea of a world-famous hobbit seems a little strange, and it was a grindy, grindy deed. But he did it! As a bonus, I now have lots of extra rep items I can send along to my alts to make the rep grind a little less burdensome for them.

Maedhroc has been gradually collecting more stories to tell the folks back home, so fans of my “Life of a Bounder” series take heart: there will be more, hopefully soon! Right now I’ve been trying to rescue all the original entries from the RSS feed and repost them to gneech.com, so I probably won’t actually make new posts to the series until that’s done.

Maedhroc_vs_GwathnorI have to get back in the habit of taking screenies! Maedhroc took on an elite Shadow Wolf named Burgul in Enedwaith solo and slapped him down quick — so quick that the body had de-rezzed before I even thought to take the screenshot. And with all the instance runs he’s been doing lately, it’s been getting harder to have a few seconds to catch a good shot. But I’ll keep trying! I did get manage to get this one, if you can make it out: it’s Maedhroc fighting the gigantic boss at the bottom of “New Devilry” and picking up his Shield Line capstone.

So it’s not like he hasn’t been busy! He just hasn’t been writing home to tell everyone about it like he should. But we’ll fix that, shan’t we! :)

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)

In LotRO the past week, Maedhroc has been grinding away at reputation in order to get the “World Renowned” deed. No real reason beyond bragging rights, but I’ve gotten some good practice in while I was at it. Soloing Grimbark and Ivar “hard mode,” even way above level, requires keeping a balance between outgoing damage vs. survivability … and skirmishes can be run at every level, so I got some good tanking practice running those at 65 and “tiering up” to increase the difficulty. Keeping idiot NPCs alive is always a challenge!

My two largest accomplishments, however, were not really connected with the reputation grind. First, I finally went back to Mirkwood and completed the “Death From Below” instance, inspired by Doc Holiday’s video walkthrough. I can’t remember if Maedhroc ever completed it previously, although my memory is that he did once and decided it was too hard to bother repeating. Galadhalion, I know, has never completed it. It’s considered a “challenging solo instance,” although I have to admit that going through this time it wasn’t that hard. Apparently I’ve become a better player! Or at least, I have much better gear than I used to.

The other big accomplishment was that last night, fellow Valar Guild members Gildor, Ardisian and I grouped up for 2.8.3 (“A Relic in Lumul-Nar”), the Hall of Mirrors instance. We’ve all had it sitting in our quest logs for months or years; it has a reputation of being a really hard instance, and nobody ever wants to group for it. But we were all determined to bang it out (or at least give it a try), so I looked up a strat guide, then we grouped up and went on in.

Frankly, it wasn’t that hard. First, we ran it at the default level of 60, which I’m sure was a big part of it; but also, we just followed the strat guide and worked well as a team. I’m getting to be a pretty solid tank, and for the first warg boss pull especially, I just pulled one mob and locked it down (“tank as crowd-control” as they say) while Gildor and Ard burned down the other one, being quick on the draw with corruption removal and anti-poison potions. The entire instance went like clockwork, except for one bad pull that we quickly recovered from with no deaths (“Crikey, that was a lot of bats!”), until the end.

We could have just destroyed the relic and ported out to finish the book quest, but we figured that while we were there, we would try to finish off the instance. Unfortunately, the bottom of the instance is an extremely annoying puzzle where you have to align mirrors in exactly the right sequence. That part isn’t so hard, except that monsters keep spawning next to the mirrors and resetting them. So while you’re fixing mirrors A, B, and C, the monsters are resetting mirrors D, E, and F. You could keep doing that all night, and probably would.

The answer appears to be that you have to split up so you can all turn the various mirrors more or less simultaneously, but that means two things: first, people will be soloing monsters at the mirrors (fine for some classes, impossible for others), and second, everybody has to know how each mirror has to be aligned. I had a chart from the strat guide that gave me what I needed, but Gildor and Ard didn’t and both got killed when trying to solo monsters anyway. Probably you could check your map and see if any given mirror was right, and the two of them could have done half while I soloed half but … meh. We all completed the book quest and we were content. Even if we had fought the final boss (with or without hard mode), all we would have gotten was Lothlorien Medallions … and the right to go “Nyah, nyah, nyah!” at all those people too cowed by the Hall of Mirrors to go down there, I suppose. ;)

Still, it was a fun trip and it’s always good to get a book quest taken care of. I’ve come to really love being the tank. You don’t get to see the huge damage numbers flashing overhead or cast lots of flashy spells, but with all of the monsters pounding on you and all the other party members depending on you to keep them safe, half the time you’re still the star of the show. ;)

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
I'm sure nobody's ever done this before, ever, in the entire history of gaming. I mean, c'mon, doing a D&D* writeup of your MMO character? That's just crazy talk. This is a game-legal build using a standard 15-point buy.

Maedhroc Thornhollow, Troll-Kicker
Male Halfling Fighter (Phalanx Soldier) 6 Rogue (Scout) 5
LG Small Humanoid (Halfling)
Init +3; Senses Perception +13


AC 27, touch 16, flat-footed 23 (+6 armor, +5 shield, +3 Dex, +1 size, +1 deflection, +1 dodge)
hp 113 (6d10+5d8+44)
Fort +11, Ref +12, Will +7
Defensive Abilities Evasion, Trap Sense +1


Spd 25 ft.
Melee +2 Keen Spear +15/+10 (1d6+5/19-20/x3)
Ranged +1 Returning Javelin +14/+9 (1d4+4/20/x2)
Special Attacks Befuddling Strike, Bleeding Attack +3, Phalanx Fighting, Ready Pike +1 (1/day), Scout's Charge, Sneak Attack +3d6


Str 14/16, Dex 16, Con 14/16, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +9; CMB +11; CMD 29 (31 vs. Bull Rush, Overrun, Pull, Push, Trip)
Feats Critical Focus, Dodge, Iron Will, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rogue Weapon Proficiencies, Saving Shield, Shield Focus, Shield Specialization: Heavy Shield, Toughness +11, Weapon Focus: Longspear
Traits Deft Dodger, Militia Veteran (Survival)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Bluff +5, Climb +5, Diplomacy +7, Disable Device +6, Intimidate +10, Knowledge: Dungeoneering +5, Knowledge: History +1, Knowledge: Local +4, Perception +13, Perform: String Instruments +5, Perform: Wind Instruments +5, Ride +5, Stealth +7, Survival +14, Swim -1
Languages Common, Halfling
SQ Fearless, Stand Firm +2 (Ex), Trapfinding +2
Combat Gear +1 Determination Scale Mail, +2 Heavy Steel Shield, +2 Keen Spear, +1 Returning Javelin; Other Gear Belt of Physical Might: STR & CON +2, Boots of Striding and Springing, Cloak of Resistance +1, Potion of Cure Serious Wounds (2), Ring of Protection +1


Befuddling Strike (Ex) Sneak attack imposes a -2 penalty for 1d4r if opponent wants to attack you.
Bleeding Attack +3 (Ex) Sneak attacks also deal 3 bleed damage per round.
Critical Focus +4 to confirm critical hits.
Evasion (Ex) If you succeed at a Reflex save for half damage, you take none instead.
Fearless +2 morale bonus vs Fear saves.
Phalanx Fighting (Ex) Polearms and spears are one-handed if weilded along with a shield.
Point Blank Shot +1 to attack and damage rolls with ranged weapons at up to 30 feet.
Precise Shot You don't get -4 to hit when shooting or throwing into combat.
Ready Pike +1 (1/day) (Ex) +1 to hit and damage if you ready a brace weapon.
Saving Shield As an immediate action, add a +2 shield bonus to an adjacent ally's AC.
Scout's Charge (Ex) Charge attacks deal sneak attack damage.
Shield Focus +1 Shield AC
Shield Specialization: Heavy Shield +2 bonus to your AC against critical hit confirmation rolls, add your shield bonus to CMD.
Sneak Attack +3d6 +3d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
Stand Firm +2 (Ex) +2 CMD vs. Bull Rush, Overrun, Push, Pull, Trip, save vs. trample.
Trap Sense +1 (Ex) +1 bonus on reflex saves and AC against traps.
Trapfinding +2 +2 to find or disable traps.
Created With Hero Lab® - try it for free at http://www.wolflair.com!


*And of course, by D&D, I mean Pathfinder, the real D&D in exile.

Some Notes: There are a lot of concepts key to LotRO Wardens that just don't map to Pathfinder, especially "building aggro" and "heal-tanking," so I tried to match the philosophical nature of the class as "tank" rather than going for mechanical equivalency. He protects allies with his "Saving Shield" ability, is harder to hurt thanks to Evasion, Befuddling Strike, et al. but is still a bit on the "squishy" side for a tank, and does damage-over-time with Bleeding Attack. Two more levels of Fighter will also get him the Bleeding Critical feat, which will be an even bigger DoT. The closest I could come to a warden's self-heal is the Determination armor, which immediately casts Breath of Life on Maedhroc if he is taken to 0 hit points.

Mechanically, I could probably recreate the self-heals and tiny party-heal by bumping his Wis to 11 and giving him a level of cleric, but that has so much "conceptual overhead" that I didn't think it was worth doing. If I had a really forgiving GM I might be able to swap out a seriously gimped "cure spells only" ability for Trapfinding, which Maedhroc is not likely to ever use anyway (something like: cure light wounds on self only at 1st level, moderate self only 3rd, serious self only 5th, cure light wounds, mass 7th, and stop there). But if I was going to get into customizing class abilities, I'd be better off to write up "Warden" as a base class from scratch and just go with that.

...which would be fun, but isn't the point of the exercise. ;)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
You know those nameless things gnawing at the roots of the Earth, that Sauron knows not and are older than he, that Gandalf didn't spend time mucking around with down in the depths of Moria? Well, we went mucking around with them.

Last night for instance night, several of us in the Valar Guild (including Maedhroc) went down into the dark places and confronted Gwathnor. "What's a Gwathnor?" you may ask? Good question. Answer: danged if I know! But I can show you a picture:

Gwathnor, Opener of Wormholes

I suppose that, having a name, he doesn't really count as a nameless thing. But he opens up wormholes at the bottom of Moria, and that can't be good!

It was a very methodical, very smooth run, and I was very pleased all around. I was the group organizer and main tank and some off-healing or DPS, with [livejournal.com profile] jamesbarrett's champion Avengelina as off-tank and melee DPS (as well as strat tips from having gone through the instance before), with Fairmaiden the minstrel and Passim the runekeeper providing heals, Nimrodel the hunter bringin' the pew-pew, and Erkendan the captain providing buffs, off-healing, and DPS. The hardest part was the crazy "escort the suicidal elf through trolls" part in the middle of the instance, but even that was relatively smooth and we had no deaths. The champion came close, but champions are like that. Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] jamesbarrett knows the class well and could pull his own fat out of the fire — I went into the instance with the policy that he pulled aggro on something to let him have it, for just that reason.

This run was a biggie for Maedhroc for two reasons. First, it was the last obstacle between him and his shield capstone skill, which is what most high-end wardens use for tanking. Second, it was one of my first real, heavy duty, training-wheels-are-off main tank/instance leader runs, and as we discovered on our previous attempts last week (three wipes and "we'll try again next time"), it's not a milk run. The fact that I not only main-tanked it, but main-tanked it well (lost aggro to the hunter once, when she was going full-strength, but kept a solid lock on all bosses and most adds) was a real confidence-booster. I've still got plenty of room to improve of course, but I don't feel quite so much like a wanna-be now. I also don't feel so much like I've got to prove that wardens can tank. I know they can, 'cause I've done it. :)

The followup quest, where you look into Galadriel's mirror, was a very cool character moment for Maedhroc as well, so I made sure to grab a bunch of screenies. I may just be able to do some more "Life of a Bounder" posts yet! Assuming I can get the ticket resolved to bring the other ones back from the dead, anyhow. If I have some time this week/weekend, I'll probably scrape 'em from the RSS feed and make copies on gneech.com so I can be reasonably sure they won't go away.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
Well, I didn't expect that when I made myself available for group stuff, we'd end up going on my character's class quest. But nobody else seemed to have a definitive thing to point to and say "I want THIS," so I got the benefit by default.

Handy, if a little vague. :)

Thanks, kinship peeps!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
Well, that's a kick to the head ... all of my posts chronicling the life of Maedhroc Thornhollow appear to have evaporated from the LotRO blog pages as part of a site revamp. I'll have to check the RSS feed version I set up and see if I can salvage them and move them to Gneech.com or something.

The only reason I went to look, really, was because I was going to ruminate in my little LotRO blog about the difference between lowbie PUGs and high-level PUGs. Last night I joined a PUG to do the "Thror's Coombe dailies" in Enedwaith ... five of us total, in the form of two captains, a hunter, a burg, and myself (warden). Tanking is easy with two buffers, a CC, and one guy in the back doing DPS. ;)

Much as I like running around M-E, I am getting a bit tired of LotRO. Even the best MMO can only be so good, and the story is creaking along at a snail's pace currently, leaving me with nothing to be interested in. Deeds? A pointless endeavor. Gear? I've got stuff that works and looks good. Tourism? I've seen just about every inch of M-E that's been rendered in the game so far, except for the far corners of some of the instances. Until a new chapter of the story comes out, or at least a new quest hub appears, I'm just half-heartedly grinding Enedwaith rep because it's there. Last night's PUG run was fun purely because it was something I don't do very often. (Usually I don't have the time to get involved in a group thing by virtue of being on the east coast and needing to actually go to bed before midnight.)

Ah well ... I've got art to do for Confuzzled and that new comic ain't gonna draw itself. I'm probably better off not puttering around in a game anyway. I'm sure there'll be some new content sooner or later.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
Can wardens make good wives? )

Wardens make wonderful spouses. Just ask Maedhroc, he'll tell you!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Maedhroc Salute)
A lil' hobbitey burglar finds herself swept up in the War of the Ring, accompanying the elves of Lothlorien in their fight against Dol Gildur in Mirkwood...



Poor thing! Maedhroc knows just how she feels!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Default)

“Hullo, merry friends! Maedhroc Thornhollow here, with more dispatches from the bounds.

First, it’s Spring Festival time!

Maedhroc rides to spring festival

Duty is duty, but even the most stalwart keeper of the peace must be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labor from time to time. So it was that I rode to sunny Bree to enjoy the new Hedge Maze. Quite impressive, and fun to boot. :) I managed to get my maze-racing time down to just over two minutes, much to the annoyance of the “maze-master” who sent me in there. And I won quite a nice trophy!

Maedhroc with hedge-hobbit

How do you like my festival hat? :)

Someone must have had a little too much Festival Wine, because they’ve been sending me a never-ending stream of blueberry tart recipes in the mail, signed “A Secret Admirer.” Honestly, if you’re out there, I appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t cook worth a tarnished penny and all these recipes are wasted on me.

Maedhroc's secret admirer

I have a sneaking suspicion it may be Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.

Eventually, the fun was over and it was back to work. I joined several members of the Valar Guild on a foray into the depths of Garth Agarwen, to finally confront and, if possible, redeem the Red Maid, once known as the river-daughter Naruhel. It was no easy task, as centuries under the dark influence of Angmar and Mordor had made her a creature of the most fell power.

Maedhroc meets the Red Maid

Corrupted and evil yes … but she was still more polite than the Blue Lady of Evendim.

The fight was long and bitter; at the end she seemed to melt away into a pool of water, leaving only her dress behind. Being a tailor in my off-time, I claimed this for study.

Maedhroc and Naruhel's dress

Interesting … er … weave?

I returned to Rivendell for a new mission and found myself sent to the abandoned dwarf-city of Helegrod, where the Nazgul I’ve been chasing for what seems like months had finally been tracked to.

Maedhroc ventures into Helegrod

This can’t be good. Even a Nazgul should know to let dead dragons lie!

Maedhroc witnesses the reanimation of Thorog

No, no, we’ll have none of that. CHARGE!

Maedhroc takes on a Nazgul in Helegrod

Remember ME, Mister Undead King? I’ve come a long way since our first meeting in the Shire! Back to your master in Mordor!

Maedhroc battling the Nazgul

Oh no you don’t! *BOOT!*

I wish I could say we were completely victorious; it’s true we sent the Nazgul fleeing home to Barad-dur, but the dragon Thorog was raised as a wight and flew off to wreak who-knows-what-havoc? I hate unfinished business, and I’m sure I’ll return to Helegrod sooner or later to deal with this ten-ton loose end.

Nevertheless, ridding Eriador of the Nazgul has provided a bit of respite and allows us to hopefully start making some headway against the enemies of the Free Peoples. In Rivendell, I was asked to see Mr. Frodo, Lord Aragorn, and the rest of their party off on a mission of some particular importance which had been waiting for this opportunity, although I’m sketchy at best on the details. I gather they’re headed south … possibly to escort Boromir back to Gondor?

Maedhroc watches Frodo and company depart

Er … you are joking, right Mr. Bilbo?

Little did I know that I was shortly to follow them to Eregion. But that tale will have to wait, as this letter is getting quite long, and I must leave you now to help a party of dwarves who hope to reclaim their ancestral home of Khazad-Dum.

Your friend in the Shire,
Honourary Shirriff Maedhroc Thornhollow”

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Ding! 50 :)

Apr. 3rd, 2009 11:02 am
the_gneech: (Default)

Okay, so it’s not as big a deal since Moria came out, but I’m still excited: my lil’ hobbitey warden reached 50th level last night. He also (thanks to the Auction House) gathered all the pages of his first book (Bullroarer’s Boy, how appropriate!) and gained his first legendary trait.

He’s also been defeated more in the past two sessions of play than in the past two months put together. 0.o The game has definitely gotten tougher! Not bang-my-head-on-the-monitor hard as it was with Galadhalion, but it definitely demands that I be more careful in my approach. Individually, I can take on orange elites and expect a fairly smooth victory — but against a bunch of normal-level foes, two blues and a white can take me down fast. I just can’t self-heal quickly enough to make up for the huge chunks of health blown away by being mobbed, especially if I also try to do damage. Spamming my health leech chain sometimes works, but it’s always iffy. And if an add comes wandering up (as they often do), or even randomly spawns right in the middle of the fight (as they also often do), I’m looking at a quick trip to Dread City.

Something I’ve learned with my warden, however, is not to attempt to flee. If things look bad enough that running is my best bet, the fight is already lost. I’ll get about ten steps away and be killed by the “stick-it-to-you” free attack monsters get when you reach the edge of their threat range. And with self-heals going, however feebly, you can occasionally pull out a victory by still have 5 morale at the end when your foe has 0. One of the warden mottos is, “Don’t run away, you’ll just die tired.” It applies to us equally as well as to our foes. (Which is not to say that I don’t kite occasionally, but in a mob-heavy area that can be even more dangerous than standing still and duking it out if you kite yourself right into another mob’s aggro zone. It’s a tactic that must be chosen with care.)

I’m currently working Echad Dunann, so I’m getting pretty close to entering the Hollin Gate instance and picking up my first legendary weapon. :) Once that’s done, it’s back to Angmar for my class quest and Vol. I, Book VII. Town-Saver’s Armour, I’m cominagetcha!

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

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