You Pesky Kids!

I must say that so far we are loving Rohan! We are by no means speeding through it – we want to take our time and explore what has turned out to be an epic landscape and often gripping storylines. Last night saw us ding 81 and reach Cliving for the first time. Rather than head straight out on the next round of patrol quests, we stayed in the town looking at the murder mystery quest (that’s all I’m saying for those who haven’t got there yet) and basically just nosing in all the houses. The place is huge, and so well done. If this is a fairly small settlement, I can’t wait to see what Edoras will be like! The NPC skins in Rohan are very well done, and the populations of the various towns and farmsteads well thought out. The places feel naturally lived in. Although I must say that while the guards stationed around Cliving seem to be slightly better equipped than those we have come across so far, there are a few chunky ones wandering around, so it’s obviously a plum of a posting. We had a lot of fun exploring Cliving, and in one of the houses we spotted this amusing little scene.

I’ve got no idea what the kids have done, but the mother doesn’t look too happy! The ominous presence of hammers on the floor suggests that whatever punishment is about to be meted out, is probably well deserved.

Advertisements

What to do with our Warsteeds!

So for some people, this is a non issue. They either have one/multiple characters and are happy to spend money, or simply couldn’t care less about cosmetics. That is fair enough, but for folks like us that love messing about with cosmetics, and have a lot of alts, the Warsteed cosmetic system was both a source of interest and excitement, and a huge disappointment.

There have been a number of post on the major blogs around about this issue, Ketani at CSTM, Hymne at Cosmetic LOTRO, and Sig at the excellent new (ish) Warsteeds site to name a few. I won’t go over the fine details here, as they do a better job of it that we will, so we will just look at how we are deciding to deal with it, in our specific circumstances.

The items; saddles, tails, gear, armour/cosmetic sets, and hides I am sort of O.K with. I mean, they are expensive, but they are in line with the sorts of things the LOTRO store has been retailing so far, and there are for the most part in-game alternatives, or options.

The hides and horse colour dyes other than the default grey were something that, if they were cheaper or account wide, we could have splurged more on, but as it is they are a bit steep at 595 Turbine points per character. As a result, I have decided when I hit 80 with a character to choose them A horse each, and that will be it.

Yes, I’ve gone all soft and given it a name, chosen it a colour, and the characters will have to live with that horse for good. One or two may get a hide skin at an extra 595 TP (though oddly in the store the ‘hides’ button on the MC tab seem to be linked to the colours which dye the body slot item, and the ‘body’ button is linked to the hide skins… weird.)

Ganin and Azaghar on their two steeds: Horsa and Hengest. Can you spot the resemblance?

Having resigned ourselves to this limitation because of the excessive cost, I actually quite like how this has altered my thinking about the warsteed. It has done what the Legendary Item system set out to do, but accidentally, through over pricing.

For us, it has given the horses a character, actually makes it a ‘permanent companion’ so to speak, a part of my character and their advancement experience. Hengest is Azaghars horse, and is a dark grey dappled horse with a black mane, Ganin has chosen a mid brown horse with a blond mane called Horsa (yes, from English Anglo-Saxon history). As you can see above, we bascially made the horse version on our dwarf characters, it made us chuckle and gave us an half hour of fun anyway! Now I grant you, our horses may wear barding, or different saddles and gear, they may even miraculously get larger and smaller if we re-trait them down light or heavy trait lines, but it will still be their horses, looking as they do in that picture, a permanent steed with them from now on, as legendary weapons should have been.

Already we are having fun, deciding what our other characters horses might look like, and what they might be called, how they might represent or complement their riders characters. Obviously not everyone will be into this, but for us, it has been fun, and after all thats what hobbies are about right?

We are Lifetime account holders, so the game holds no running cost for us outside of expansions, and about £40ish a year in Turbine points for stuff we fancy, so in many ways we are able to take this stance, as the high cost impacts us less that subscribers. Given the rate we level and play, realistically the monthly allowances we get from our lifetime VIP will basically pay for these steed colours and hides for everyone oertime if we pace our purchases.

Perhaps we are deluding ourselves, perhaps we should take a harder stance with regard to this, as I wouldn’t disagree that they are too expensive, and prohibitive of the sort of splurge purchasing I thought I would indulge in. However,we have taken the active decision to not get too het up about it, or back ourselves into an ideological corner from which there is no retreat. We have registered our complaint on the forums and within the wider LOTRO community, but we are not going to get overly annoyed or embroiled in the issue as this is our hobby and it is easily tarnished when you set off on a, often futile, crusade to change things. We are taking what we have been dealt by Turbine, and choosing what we feel are appropriate purchases, and what we consider to be cheeky and too much, and thus Turbine will not be getting money off us for, which brings us onto the warsteed dye situation…

Azbarak is pleased she wears purple and won a steed of the guardian in the lottery, because she is one of the few people on the server not wearing variations on the same theme! Indigo makes a good purple match!

To be fair there are some free colours which you can use to dye your horses outfits and barding; Orange, yellow, green, rust, indigo, and rose. So… yeah, ones that would sell well then… not. It is however good news for Dutch or Brazilian football fans. For access to the other colours you have to pay TP to unlock them for use, so far, I am fairly comfortable with this.

595 Turbine Points is far, far, too much for a pack of four predetermined colours, randomly mixed, that is bound per character. For people like me with 5-6+ level cap alts, 2K+ TP per character, just to parp around with dyes is ridiculous. We are part of the LOTRO community that likes cosmetics, naturally fan boy and girls disposed often, and we are a natural target for the F2P marketing, and are pretty comfortable with that, but we are not total idiots.

Two options would have been acceptable to us personally, If they had announced it was 595 TP to unlock the colours for the whole account or server, this still would have netted turbine 2K+ of points for a full access unlock, though admittedly people with alts would have got more benefit than those with just one character, who would still be in the same boat.

The other option is choice, often Turbines favourite word when it comes to trying to flog things. In this instance 100ish points per colour, hell even 150 TP per colour, would have at least given us a choice of what colours to buy and use, but as it stands if you are after black, then you get lumped with a number of other insipid colours, basically just so they could justify sticking the 595 price tag on it, then claiming ‘but it is for four colours‘! I am sure if they could have got away with charging 595 for individual colour of black, red, Rivendell green, Ered Luin blue, and crimson,  and branded them ‘premium colours‘, i.e. the colours the bulk of folks want, then they would, and then stick the rest on for 100 points each, to fill up the corners. I suppose this shows us they still have some shame.

As it stands, we have decided to not buy any dyes, and do our best with plain horses, or greens. If and when we have used our monthly allowances and bought our steeds some hide colours, then we may consider using our monthly allowance for these, but I am not using Turbine points I paid money for, for this unlock. Once again, I have a lot of sympathy for folks who are subscribing, as this is a bit beyond the pale.

Either way they will get their monthly points back for some of this stuff, but it will take a long while to accrue, still, we are in no rush. If Turbine had wanted our actual money, they went the wrong way about it. But, as always, we shall remain irritatingly cheerfully optimistic, and have fun with the new game mechanic that, I have slowly been creeping through rounds of Beta to live from being suspiciously uncomfortable with, to really enjoying.

Don’t fancy yours much

The Khazad Guards Childsplay auction via CSTM!

Some of you probably already know about the fantastic yearly charity event organised by the fine folks at A Casual Stroll to Mordor. As usual the event involves a charity sponsored walk in-game on the Landroval server. The event itself is in aid of Childs Play a charity dedicated to bringing toys and games to children sick in hospital, and this is not just an American charity, indeed, Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital, Royal Manchester Childrens’ Hospital, and Childrens’ Hospital in Sheffield, close to where we live in the UK all benefit from this charity.

Last year over $5000 was donated by the amazing LOTRO community, and this year CSTM has set its target at an impressive $7000! This year there are more ways you can donate than ever before, with a host of fantastic charity auctions hosted by CSTM, and provided by the LOTRO community.

You can find out more about CSTM, the event, and donate yourselves here: http://casualstrolltomordor.com/2012/09/childsplay2012/

We have donated on a yearly basis, but this year the Khazad Guard has scratched its beards and come up with a way to contribute themselves, after all it’s not just baby hobbits that get sick, but baby dwarves too!

We have provided CSTM with the Khazad Guards very own original copy of their Map of Beleriand in the First Age, and you too can bid and buy it for yourself here!

The map itself is pretty big 25″ (64cm) x 19″ (49cm) drawn in Black, Red, and Brown ink, on coarse heavy weight paper by Adam of the Khazad Guard, which has been and fake aged and stained, with creases, folds, cracks and burns/scorching, including one detached piece. This took over 10 hours to draw, and was done entirely by hand.

(There is no frame with this auction, just the map itself, you will have to buy or have a frame made yourself… be warned it is big!)

It is open to free European postage as we are providing this ourselves, but if you are willing to pay for postage (in advance please) we are prepared to post it elsewhere too. It will be folded carefully (where it already has crease folds) and packed in a padded envelope about A4 sized to be posted to the winner, It will be marked as “gift”, but any taxes due will be the bidders responsibility, as will any losses or damage in the postal system.

So get yourselves over there and check this and the other auctions out, and think about donating yourself!

thanks

The Khazad Guard

Crafting Preparations for Rohan

Yesterday saw the release of a Dev Diary by Dina “Ayvan” Monas, all about crafting, and it looks like crafting is getting a lot of love this expansion. There is going to be a new tier, Eastemnet, and also a new Guild tier, Grand Master, and a few other little tweaks. Resource gathering will be following the same process as it did with RoI, in that there will be normal resource nodes and rich resource nodes (eg. Skarn and Rich Skarn), which can then be processed into low, medium and high quality ingredients (eg. Low Quality, Medium Quality and High Quality Calenard Ingots). Rare items can again be processed into either optional crit ingredients (eg. Pure Calenard), or used as a more efficient way of processing the High Quality resources. This will probably still be gated behind reputation. As with RoI, special crafting ingredients for single use or Guild recipes, the Cracked Rhi Helvarch Sigil, or whatever it will be in Rohan, is a rare drop from all craft nodes. The good news is that all lower tiers will be following the same pattern, with sapphire, ruby, adamant and beryl shards, and mithril flakes potentially dropping from their relevant tier nodes also.

The way that the non gathering crafting professions (jeweller, tailor, metalworker, weaponsmith, and woodworkers) process the raw materials is being tweaked, so that you can level them without a lot of wastage. Jeweller is not too bad, you can very tediously polish gems until the cows come home without actually using up any resources, but for the others you have to put in an awful lot of raw materials, and often pricey vendor bought ingredients, to come out with a little XP and a pile of vendor trash which rarely makes you a profit.

They have facilitated this with new processing recipes, whereas low quality ingredients can be turned into a “shaving”, and then turned back into low quality items. Once the tier is mastered and you can crit, you could well end up with more resources than you started out with. This sounds like a very positive step.

The new recipes themselves will be more of the same, a few token auto granted and vendor bought, but world drops and reputation gated for the most part. The Dev Diary did say that there would be full armour sets to craft at both 80 and 85, which is good, as a lot of people were frustrated at the piecemeal crafting items in the RoI expansion. As reputation will be, like RoI, earned rather than bartered, this excludes all of us who have un-levelled crafting alts from being able to craft the whole spectrum. Looking at the forums, the community suggestion is that the rep recipes become bound to account to help this along, but whether this will appear in-game at some point or another is a different matter. Expect therefore that the world drop recipes will be at a premium on the Auction, at least for the first few months.

They have also announced another tier of Relics, including crafted relics, for both personal use and mounted combat, which is interesting and a potential source of income for dedicated crafters, and the next level ingredient, the Compendium of Middle Earth Vol IV. To facilitate this they are bringing back the Crafting resource instances like those in Moria, and similar to the Legendary item instances in Galtrev. These will be able to be run daily, and probably also be a nice little addition to reputation.

So, what can crafters do to prepare for this?

For the Eastemnet tier, not really a lot, save make a little space in the vault to store all the new resources. However we can prepare for the new Guild Tier, by making Guild Rep items of lower tiers and stock piling them, ready to hand in. I cannot say how much XP is needed to progress from Master of the Guild to Grand Master (despite being in the BETA we didn’t investigate crafting that much), but I do remember that the last Guild tier was 45k. It is probably going to be in excess of 60k, so this is much better to level with lower tiers, and guild emblems that you don’t want, rather than waste the new tier ones which you want to use for nice new jewelry and armour, so get making and stock piling now.

In terms of crafted relics for your legendary, if you can craft them now, do so, for both the Westfold and Supreme tiers. The ideal ones to make are the basic relics which cost standard materials, and do not need the Compendium of middle earth (volume 1, 2, or 3), though the compendium recipes themselves are also worth doing if you have some spare. Whilst you might not want the relics themselves, the relics can be refined into shards at the Relic master, which will come in nice and handy for creating and customizing new tier relics, especially if (when!) we all want to bling out our War horses legendary bridles with new mounted combat relics. A standard crafted relic gives you 64 shards and are on a daily cooldown, and the compendium of middle earth volume 3 relics will give you in excess of 700 hundred, so they are worth doing as often as you can and, being shared in the wallet, on as many alts as you have, especially as we will certainly be looking at costs in the thousands for melding relics.

We have until 15th October to get what we want to in place so we can go out and explore Rohan, and hopefully come back with bags bulging with resources and recipes.

Outfitting the Khazad Guard

We have finally got round to creating a page about our kin uniform. We were a mottley bunch when we started and it didn’t half smarten us all up! As with everything we do, we think far too much about thing like this, and take it to the ends of the earth, but if you are still not put off, you can read all about it here, or just access it from the ‘The Khazad Guard’ Menu above.

cheers

Adam and Emma

A Recruiting Message for our 6 Dwarf group

The Khazad Guard needs YOU!

Due to a few problems we are currently a Dwarf short in our 6 man fellowship group, and are looking for another member to round us out. It is a really fun project which you can read about here and here and see the progress of in ‘the KG Offensive’ menu above. If the idea of having a regular levelling and fellowship group made of Dwarves appeals to you, then by all means read on and see what we do and what you’d need to be able to commit to join in too.

What we do

  • Our goal is to only play the characters together doing as much 6 man landscape and instance content as possible, on level. This leaves little room to play the characters outside without overlevelling. We are currently level 38ish and about to start the Tomb of Elendil, after that we will be heading to Angmar to play all the landscape and instance content there, including Carn Dum, Urugarth, and Barad Gularan! With long-term plans for Moria, Mirkwood, In their Abscence, Isengard, Great River and beyond, as well as skirmish and scalable content.
  • Joining the kinship would be optional, but prefered on this character. We are a very small social group, many evenings you will have one, two or perhaps no companions. If you want to create this character to play with us, that’s fine, if you want to join other kinships, or play mostly on your original server, or even make more dwarves to play in our kinship, we have no issue.
  • We meet monthly at a mutually convenient date and time agreed by group email, which is usually a weekend in the early afternoon UK time (morning American time) GMT or GMT+1 in the summer months.
  • Our group is made up of myself and Emma, both in our 30’s and a mutual friend who is very, very old… practically bus pass old, and another friend and his son that we all met via another kinship in LOTRO.  We are all English, but are happy to consider any Age, Race, Nationality etc etc, if you like what we do and are prepared to play along the rest is none of our business!
  • And finally, we play Dwarves, and Dwarves only in this instance group

How we’d go about it

  • You would need to have or create a Dwarf character on our server, Eldar (EU), and reach our level. We will be able to help with this. Ideally we would like a Dwarf Guardian, preferably with a reasonable name, we have plenty of fun names like ‘Fluzi’, but ‘Ninjatank’ tends to sound a bit crap to all of us. We are not an RP kinship, but we do enjoy the broader aspects of gameplay, and are by no means averse to it. For us it is mostly about having a background and a reason to what we do, and having a lot of fun with it! We’d be more than happy to help suggest names if you get a bit stuck. If you have a Guardian and definitely do not want another, then we may be able to accommodate a Champion or Minstrel, get in touch and we’ll chat about it. If you really want to play another class, by all means give us a shout anyway, we can always see what we can do, as we have many classes at level 65-75 and it may be we can sort something out.
  • If after trial we are both/all mutually keen to continue, we can help with crafting and the other issues people find with new characters/joining a new server, so don’t panic about that.
  • You need to be able to attend the sessions once a month and complete the ‘homework’ or tasks which usually consists of solo instances and quest lines to unlock group play, for the next play session which is usually fairly minimal, as and when we need to. We provide a full detailed list of what needs doing for the next meeting as in the ‘The KG Offensive’ menu.
  • We would do a couple of runs together to make sure we are all happy to continue. Sounds a bit formal, but we are looking for a compatible form of nutter here so it gives you a good get out clause!
  • When on runs together we have a uniform we wear! What you do the rest of the time is up to you, but in battle we wear our colours with pride!
  • We are all English, and have English as our first language. We use in game chat whilst on our runs, so whilst English may not be your first language being able to understand us and join in might be a good idea.

IF you are interested then please either leave a comment, drop an email to thekhazadguard@gmail.com, or send a tell to Izbaruk, Ganin, Haki or Azaghar in Game.

cheers

Adam

Down in the Dumps

Whilst questing recently in the North Downs, we came across an aurochs, who had quite frankly, given up all hope and fallen into a deep depression. We waved at it in the hopes of cheering it up, but to no avail. We have sent a message to the Rangers of Esteldin to see if they can do anything to alleviate the beasts condition, but so far we have heard no word. We ask everyone to be on the lookout for other beasts suffering the same malady, and to notify the Rangers at once. A raven has been dispatched to Ost Guruth to seek out Radagast, to see if he has any advice, being well schooled in all things natural. Until then, please try not to taunt these poor beasts whilst passing them, and if you must hunt them for their hides, please do so in a quick and dignified manner.

The Khazad Guard Offensive

As Emma mentioned in a previous post, we have recently begun a little 6 man Khazad Guard Dwarf group to play through the games fellowship content on level, supplemented by a little solo work inbetween times. Hopefully, for the subsequent runs we can get our act together and document our runs with a few more screen shots and videos, but for now we have set up a permanent page series to chart our path and progress.

These kind of events are really good fun, but take a little organising, so I hoped to encourage others to perhaps try and organise their own permanent groups, and to make it easier for them. As a result, at the top now you will see a menu entitled ‘The KG Offensive’ and this drop down menu should display an introduction and then the content we have been playing together with the level range it covers, which hopefully others may be able to adapt and use, should they choose to follow suit.

Thanks for reading

Adam

 

New Devilry- Screen Shots (Image Heavy)

As Adam mentioned in his last post, he had been kindly giving me a hand levelling both my cappy and my second champ. As the cappy is on our second account, I get two toons levelled for the price of one. I really just wanted them out of Moria, and so we worked mainly on getting the Moria Epic book done.

Azagan modelling the Cloak of Shadow and Flame

Anlafski and Izbaruk modelling the Singed Cloak

Vol 2, Book 6 Chapter 8 is New Devilry – an instance that I particularly love. You can go in either solo or duo, either way getting the inspire buff. It’s pretty simple, its fun, you get a nice pile of cash, a load of rep items, and one of two possible cloaks – The Singed Cloak, or as a rare drop, The Cloak of Shadow and Flame. One of these will drop from the boss, Gwathnor, who is in effect some type of lesser Balrogesque spirit. On level (60) these are pretty nice and for some classes really worth wearing, otherwise they are worth it for cosmetics. I love them both and use them on various alts. They are a permanent fixture in my Wardrobe.They dye really well, with the cloak of Shadow and Flame having some interesting outcomes because of the existing colours on it.

However, the best thing about this instance is the ambience, and screenshots in here are always stunning. We went in duo, and I spent the whole boss fight taking pictures. I put down a banner, then let Adam do all the work on champ while I clicked F11 and enjoyed the view. Gwathnor is an interesting boss fight to witness and capture screenshots of as he will periodically change appearance throughout the fight. Blacks and purples for the Shadow phase and reds and oranges for the flame. There are no special tactics needed, its just a tank and spank fight, and great to watch. The good news is that if you need these cloaks for yourselves, the instance can be revisited via the reflecting pool in the Twenty First Hall, under Return to Azanarukar. I think I ran this about four times on Ganin my main Champ to get the Cloak of Shadow and Flame for my wardrobe. Although I will say that if you go in through the reflecting pool, you will be left in the Shadowed Refuge, and if you don’t have the rep for the swift travels, this can be a bit of a pain in the proverbial.

As you can see from the following screenshots, its a nice instance to run, especially if you have a friend to do all the work. I probably took close to 50 screenshots in there, and it was difficult to choose some to show because they are all pretty good.

Disapearing Tricksy Elves!

Sorry about the little tonic bar icon in the bottom left, we always forget to unload them, but they are just too usefull! Thanks to Adam for levelling my character,and I hope you all enjoyed the pcitures!

Emma

Some of our New Outfits- Cebelia

Cebelia was the second character that I ever created, but in four years she is still little played and is languishing at level 35. I plan to level her up at some point, honest! As yet, she is not a priority project, but I made a point of bringing her out for the Anniversary Festival. I’m glad that I did because she won a Lossoth Steed in the envelope quest. Just because she is not currently being levelled doesn’t mean that she can’t look good.

Power Ranger

Most Hunters seem to try to emulate some sort of Ranger type outfit, and Cebelia is no different. However, as a Hobbit lady with attitude, she sees no reason to blend into the background. I love the Grey Company cosmetic rewards you get for various stages of the Epic Book, and use some of the pieces a lot. The boots really do not work on a Dwarf, there is too much stretching and the dagger in the boot becomes strangely distorted.

Head – Fine Grey Company Hood (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Sea blue dye.

Armour – Reinforced Leather Dunlending Jacket (Medium Armour Dunland Quest Reward) Sea blue dye.

Shoulders – Fine Grey Company Wrap (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Sea blue dye.

Gloves – Fine Grey Company Gauntlets (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Sea blue dye.

Boots – Fine Grey Company Boots (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Sea blue dye.

Steed of the Guardian

I was lucky enough to win a Steed of the Guardian on Cebelia in one of the lotteries, so of course I had to make a suitable outfit to go with it, but at the same time make one different to the one I previously made for Emsibelle, my little Hobbit Tank. Again the Rangers cosmetics make an appearance. I needed to stick to the same colour scheme of reds, whites and greys to match the horse, but in a different ratio to Emsibelle’s outfit. I didn’t want this outfit to look too much like a heavy armour set

Armour – Forged Iron Dunlending Hauberk (Heavy Armour Dunland Quest Reward) White dye.

Shoulders – Fine Grey Company Wrap (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Crimson Dye.

Gloves – Fine Grey Company Gauntlets (Epic Book Cosmetic Reward, Vol 3 Book 5 Chapt 1) Crimson Dye.

Boots – Shield Bearers Boots (Guardian Moria Class Armour) Crimson dye.

Steed – Steed of the Guardian (Limited Store Exclusive)

Thanks for looking! The next Hobbit lady to get a makeover will be Dandilyon.

Emma