Mar 02 2011

Maedhroc Thornhollow, World Renowned!

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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, 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

Feb 21 2011

That ‘twaren’t So Scary!

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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

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Apr 08 2009

Life of a Bounder, Part XII

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“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”

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Apr 03 2009

Ding! 50 :)

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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

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Mar 27 2009

Life of a Bounder, Part XI

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“Hullo, my friends! ’tis Maedhroc, at your service. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to catch up with my correspondence, but since my initial foray into the Tomb of Elendil, it seems like it’s been a never-ending run with barely time to stop and smoke a little leaf from time to time. Where to begin?

I suppose it should be Rivendell, where I was given the singular honor of attending a ceremony of no small significance.

Maehdroc at the forging of Anduril

Lord Aragorn (yes, yes, I know, but I’m convinced now) invited me to attend as thanks for my part in delivering the elfstone needed. I notice with some amusement that there are more hobbits there than men.

While in Rivendell, I decided to do some sightseeing.

Maedhroc surveys Rivendell

By the order of Lord Elrond, I was allowed into Imlad Gelair, a kind of “secret valley within the secret valley,” usually only accessible by elves or elf-friends. I must say, while I was touched, I’m also a bit overwhelmed at all these important personages treating me with such kindness. I’m just a Bounder, after all. But I did make sure to dress for the occasion.

Maedhroc in Imlad Gelair

I also had a reunion with some old friends whom I hadn’t seen for far too long. They seemed a bit reluctant to catch up on old times, tho.

Maedhroc with Merry and Pippin in Rivendell

Of course, it wasn’t all vacation in Rivendell. A Bounder’s work is never done, least of all mine. Lord Elrond asked me to find a gift for his daughter, the Lady Arwen, left by Lady Celebrian before she sailed to the West, which was hidden in a vault somewhere in the Trollshaws. Fortunately, the entrance to the vault was well-marked.

Maedhroc finds a well-labeled hidden doorway

Well, that’s handy!

From there, I found myself helping a hunter track down a most peculiar, rather smelly, and unprofitable beastie. My friend Galadhalion told me about this fellow; I’m surprised to see they’re still chasing each other after all this time.

Maedhroc, Wistan, and Gollum

What “we”? There’s only the two of us here, thanks to Wistan’s conveniently turned ankle.

Maedhroc chases Gollum

What ARE you going on about, you weird little man?

Maedhroc paddles after Gollum

He eventually managed to scramble up a cliffside and get away, after sicking an orc on me. Little pest!

Before heading back out to the wilderness, Gandalf asked me to have a chat with Mr. Frodo, who was feeling a little moody. I told him what news I had of The Shire, such as the restoration of the Quick Post, and rousting “the ghost of the Old Took” from the Great Smials … but he didn’t seem much interested.

Maedhroc regales Frodo with tales of the Shire

He rather surprised me with what I thought was a strange question.

Frodo calls Maedhroc an adventurer

“Adventurer?” I’m no adventurer, Mr. Frodo. I’m simply a keeper of the peace. Someone has to do it, after all!

From there, it was back out to the wilds. You may remember Longbough, the treeherder I spoke of in a previous letter? He asked me to join an expedition to help him destroy a huorn whose heart had turned black with hate. It was a sad job and a hard one — trees get mean when they’re mad — but we managed to put the poor creature down.

Maedhroc helps Longbough against the Twisted Heart

Not too long after that, I found myself in Angmar again (Wardens are always on the go!), where I confronted several … creatures … of a most unwholesome cast.

Maedhroc vs. Angmar Morreval

Um, Miss? You may wish to put on some clothes before you attempt to wage war upon the Free Peoples. Also, why does it look like you’re attempting to flourish the words “Root Vegetable”?

Upon returning to the Shire, I found myself with more coin in my pocket than I ever expected to see in my lifetime. And so I did something I once thought I would never do … I bought myself a lovely little burrow in the Southfarthing.

Maedhroc's new house

My old gaffer lives right up the road in Michel Delving, and I still visit him often and stop in at the Mathom Society House, or pop in to the Bird and Baby for a little something when I can. But these days, after so many harrowing experiences on the road, I find myself thinking that one of the most pleasant things in the big old world, is to relax on the porch with a good pipe full of leaf and watch the twilight come rolling in.

Maedhroc enjoys a pipe on his porch

There’s more, much more to tell you, but the hour draws late and I must return to Angmar come the morrow, so I’ll draw to a close here. I hope this finds you safe and well.

Your Friend In the Shire,
Honourary Shirriff Maedhroc Thornhollow”

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Mar 23 2009

Have I Mentioned I Love My Warden?

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This weekend was the first real test — could Maedhroc succeed where Galadhalion failed? And the answer was not just “yes,” but “#@%% YEAH!!!”

Specifically the “Goblin Fire” quests near Goblin-Town. You’re tasked with making your way into the goblin encampment, stealing five goblin-fire pots, coming up with a brew to sabotage them, then going in and blasting the camp to kingdom-come. However, this goblin camp is not what you’d call “sparsely populated.” In fact, there are goblins everywhere, not just standing in regular posts, but wandering all over the place. If you attack one, you’ll end up fighting five every time — the one you attack, the two that are in aggro range of that one, and the two that come wandering up to the fight 3/4 of the way through. Nevertheless, this is listed as a level 45 solo quest.

Uh huh.

Galadhalion couldn’t do it. He was defeated time and again, but every time he’d start to get anywhere near the fire-pots, he’d be swarmed with goblins and go down hard. He tried it at 45. He tried it at 46. He tried it at 47, 48, and 49. He tried it at 50. Same result every time, the only difference being that the repair bills got larger as his gear got more expensive. He did finally manage to do it at level 52, duoing it with a burglar, I think it was. (Been a long time.)

So last night Maedhroc, at level 46, decided to give it a go. It took care and effort — timing his pulls, watching for patrols and working out when it was safe to move — but he got all the way in, picked up the requisite fire-pots, and got all the way back out again, without a single defeat. He only had to flee once, and that was from a bad pull (”Curse you, tab key!”) — and even that was just running to a pre-discovered “safe spot” until the goblins chasing him gave up on it.

Same player, same strategies — the difference is all in the class. I’m willing to concede that I may just suck at playing champions; but since I’ve been playing Maedhroc, every other class seems painful. With the warden, I finally feel like I have a realistic shot at doing on-level content without getting wiped over and over again hoping for a lucky roll of the dice.

Warden FTW. :)

-The Gneech

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