Monday, April 16, 2007

LotRO Journal - 17-April-2007

I was reading the LotRO forums, and several people there were loudly complaining about the high repair costs. With several other players responding that their repair costs are very low to insignificant. So what's going on? It turns out that LotRO has a hidden death penalty, in the form of repair costs.

Now I'm a very careful player, and as long as I solo I rarely die. I observed that by playing like that the repair costs are relatively low, not having a big impact on my finances. But you know how things can go, you take on a quest, underestimate the danger, you die, and then instead of doing the sensible thing and running away you suddenly get stubborn and try again and again, dying several times in the process. I did that once and ended up with a nasty 20-silver repair bill, after doing a quest that paid only 3 silver or so. Obviously if you play LotRO in a hotheaded way, dying often, you'll run into serious money problems. As long as you are aware about this form of death penalty, this isn't such a bad thing. LotRO has no xp loss or xp debt on dying, and only a very minor form of rez sickness, which only becomes significant if you die repeatedly in a short time. You don't even have to run as a ghost or otherwise to your corpse, you come out instantly alive and fit at the next graveyard. So having at least one form of death penalty in the form of repair costs is probably necessary, otherwise there are no consequences of failure.

My hobbit farmer is still making money growing Sweet Galenas pipe-weed at master expert level, with the mastery option turned on. But then I went and blew most of that money on my other two yeoman crafts: cooking and tailoring. Tailoring is interesting in being more typical of the LotRO tradeskills. Tailoring uses lots of leather, which comes from light hides dropped by various furry animals. You need a forester to turn the hides into boiled leather. But LotRO doesn't have a level limit on tradeskills, so I just sent a dwarf alt through the dwarven starting area until he got level 6 and finished the intro instance. Then I made this dwarf a woodsman, so he now has the forester profession to boil my leather. And as woodworker he can make campfire kits, which I need for cooking on the hobbit. My hobbit already had a lot of light hides from his advanced wolf-slayer deed, but then bought even more of them cheaply on the auction house, sent them all to the dwarf and got them back processed. I love how LotRO's mail arrives instantly, without the stupid 1 hour delay that WoW has. So now I got the mats, how does tailoring work?

First you need to turn the boiled leather into leather pads and leather bindings. These you combine either with vendor bought bolts of cloth into light armor, or with boiled leather into medium armor. As apprentice tailor you have one series of recipes for light, and one series of recipes for medium armor. But you can get another series each for light and medium armor from dropped purple recipes. As the drop rate is relatively high (compared to WoW where recipes drop very rarely), it is easy enough to pick up the complete series of recipes at reasonable prices from the auction house. Now once you are master apprentice you get the mastery option. That means you can add a purple monster body part, like a "dirty bat claw" to your recipe and have a 50% chance of a critical success making an even better item. Again the mob body parts drop often enough to be priced reasonably on the auction house. So already at the apprentice tier you have 4 different levels of light armor, and 4 different levels of medium armor you can make: trainer recipe with and without critical success, and drop recipe with and without critical success, with the drop recipe items being better than the trainer recipe items. So now I'm running around in a mix of yellow drop recipe cloth armor and purple critical successes.

But all in all getting there cost me a fortune, for the hides, the recipes, the added mob body part component, and the relatively expensive NPC vendor bought cloth component. And all this for armor with a minimum level of 7, which I'm now replacing with the quest reward items I get at level 13. So as a way to equip yourself tailoring is far too expensive. There is no way to make money by selling items to vendors, as the armor you produce sells for less than even just the cost of the vendor bought cloth. Without the money I made farming I could never have afforded my tailored armor. And it gets worse. To get past apprentice and into journeyman tailoring, you need medium hides. These drop from level 18ish mobs, but the armor you can tailor from these is minimum level 10. So anyone who can gather the medium hides is probably already wearing better armor than the best armor he can tailor with the hides. So right now I'm not impressed with tailoring. The only nice feature of tailoring is that in spite of the better tailored armor being yellow or even purple, with magical bonuses and everything, it isn't bind on equip. Thus when I got a quest reward replacing some tailored armor I was wearing, I was able to hand down my old armor to a lower level guild mate. Which is nicer than having to vendor it for a fraction of the cost to make it. I guess my purple critical success items might stay in the economy for quite a while, until somebody accidentally vendors them.

Cooking is also a tradeskill that destroys large amounts of money. Many ingredients are vendor-bought, and the resulting product sells only for a fraction of the cost. I didn't even reach apprentice proficiency yet, but I got close. Up to now I've been mainly growing pipe-weed when farming, but ultimately I hope to grow more vegetables, and concentrate on the recipes that I can cook using mainly grown vegetables, and few bought ingredients. Up to now I only cooked 10 hard biscuits and 10 eggs and onions to do a quest in Bree twice, which brings me back to farming:

In farming I had up to now only used the recipes I received automatically when skilling up. But there are other recipes being sold by the farmer vendors. For some of these recipes the farmer vendor also sells the seeds. For other recipes the seeds can't be bought. One of these recipes where you can't get seeds is another pipe-weed, called Sweet Lobelia. As different pipe-weeds blow different smoke rings when being smoked, having exotic pipe-weeds is of interest from a role-playing point of view. This is purely for show, smoking has no positive effect on your character stats, probably to get the game past the censors. :) Sweet Lobelia seeds apparently can be found in supply crates, a kind of treasure chest, but I'm not high level enough to go to regions where supply crates appear in monster camps. In the Shire I only found backpacks, which work the same way, but give lower level treasures. The only other way to get Sweet Lobelia seeds is to do a quest where you hand in 5 hard biscuits and 5 eggs and onions, created by cooking, and receive 6 seeds, just enough for one field of Sweet Lobelia. So I did that quest, and managed to get 3 more seeds from the auction house. But unfortunately I wasn't lucky with my Sweet Lobelia fields, and never got a critical success producing lots of poor plants, thus lots of seeds. I was taking care to grow the fields without the mastery option, because apparently then your chance to get poor plants is slightly higher. But I only got 3 poor plants once, and then a series of 2 and 1 poor plants per field, below the rate of self-replacement of the seeds, until I ran out. So I cooked another batch of biscuits and eggs and onions, sent them to my dwarf, had the dwarf travel to Bree, and did the quest again. I also bought more seeds from the auction house. Right now I have 11 seeds, as soon as I get at 12th seed I'll try again. I hope that by starting with enough seeds for 2 fields I'm more likely to keep going until I get lucky and multiply my seeds.

But first I'll need to do another day of Sweet Galenas mastery farming, to replenish my money. I spent several hundred silver on tailoring and cooking, without much to show for it. If I didn't have farming, I wouldn't know how to pay for all of this.

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