Tuesday, May 1, 2007

LotRO Journal - 2-May-2007

The login server problem having been repaired, I was playing without problem all day yesterday. I'm still level 18, and haven't earned many xp that day, but I added a lot of new accomplishments and traits to my deed log. Let me explain why I think that is important:

Traits are LotRO's way of allowing you to specialize and improve your character beyond what you get for just leveling up. Your level only determines how many slots you have for virtue, racial, class, and legendary traits. It is up to you to fill those slots. Remember the South Park WoW episode where the kids kill 65,340,285 boars to level up? Now lets assume that would work, for example the kids finding higher level boars as they level up. In WoW, as they level up, they would earn talent points and have the same choice of talents as everybody else. In LotRO they would have a lot of empty trait slots, with nothing to put in, except maybe an advanced boar-slayer trait. So in LotRO, to fill your trait slots, you need to do more than grinding one sort of monsters.

As I said there are different types of traits, and the one you get the most slots for are the virtues. There are 19 different virtues, from charity to zeal. There are three typical types of accomplishments that can reward you with a virtue trait. The simplest one is for killing monsters of a specific type, for example goblins, brigands, spiders, or wolves. After you kill 30 of them, you are rewarded with an appropriate title, like "spider foe". Then when you kill 60 more of the same type, you get a trait. The second type of accomplishment involves visiting a number of places, for example 6 elf ruins. Once you visit the first one, you get the list of the other ruins to visit. And once you've been to them all, you get a trait. The third accomplishment type to get virtues is by doing quests. This usually happens in three steps, for example in Ered Luin you get a trait for every 10 quests you do, up to 3 traits for 30 quests. The Shire, having a lot more quests on offer, gives you the 3 traits for 75 quests.

As I said, there are 19 different virtues. But there are far more accomplishments in the game, because there are up to 7 accomplishments giving you the same virtue. And theses virtues "stack", that is the more of the same you get, the higher the effect. For example idealism gives +3 fate, +1% fear resistance, and +2 will at rank 1, but +21 fate, +4% fear resistance, and +6 will at rank 7. And the improved effect of having higher ranks in one virtue doesn't eat up more slots. At level 18 I have 4 slots for virtues, and it is obviously better to pack them full with traits of the highest possible rank.

But virtues aren't the only traits. There are racial traits, which open up at specific levels, and allow you to kill a number of monsters to get a race-specific bonus or ability. And there are class traits, which you get from class-specific quests, or by using one of your abilities a number of times. If I use my minstrel's Herald's Strike ability 700 times, I get the Herald's Hammer trait, which if I equip it makes my Herald's Strike deal twice as much damage.

So back from the explanation of how traits work to the adventures of my hobbit minstrel in Ered Luin. Ered Luin has 4 virtues you can gain by just visiting places, all of which I collected. There are also 5 virtues you can get by killing 90 mobs of a type, from which I only did the goblins and the bandits. Both of these live in large camps, giving you nearly endless supply of mobs to kill, and they exist in level 10 to 12 types, which still give xp at level 18, if not many. The other 3 are for animal types, which unfortunately are more dispersed, and drop not so good loot. I might do these another day, if I feel I need the traits they give. I didn't do quests to get the 3 number-of-quest related traits. But anyway, in a few hours I had collected 6 virtues, a few xp, lots of loot being worth more than my repair costs, and had a much better idea of the layout of Ered Luin in case I ever play a dwarf or elf alt. So going there instead of Bree-Land, where I certainly would have leveled up faster, was not a waste of time.

Today is patch day in Europe. I assume, but can't be certain, that the farming nerf is going to be patched in today. So yesterday I still did a lot of farming, getting my money reserves up to 3 gold, which is comparatively rich for a level 18 character. After the patch I consider farming to be "broken", but Turbine promised to completely rework it in the June Shores of Evendim content patch. They said they would make the ingredients much, much cheaper, and adjust the vendor prices in a way that a bad harvest loses you some coppers, while a good harvest earns you some coppers. So no way to abuse farming as a money-making machine, but at least it isn't a useless huge money-sink any more. I don't know if they are going to remove the vegetables from the cooking vendors, but at least I hope that in future it will be cheaper to farm vegetables than to buy them from a vendor. They are also going to add the ability to grow grain, and turn that into beer. Beer will be like pipe-weed, with no real benefit, just for role-playing purposes. But if its very cheap to make, then at least it isn't a total loss. I just hope they renege on their stupid claim of "poor plants were always supposed to yield only 1 seed", because only by getting that one back to 3 seeds, or fields yielding a lot more poor plants, would cross-breeding again become viable. Well, nothing to do but wait and see.

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